With The "Running Man" on the "Total Recall" Bus Tour
I have always wanted to photograph a candidate on a campaign tour, but I never thought I would end up on the "California Comeback Express" with gubernatorial candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger. Yes, you heard me correctly, the former body builder turned action movie star could officially be called the "Running Man" as he attempted to replace California governor Gray Davis in an historic recall election. With less than one week left until the October 7th election, Ahhnold set out on a five-day bus tour and fly-around stumping throughout California.
As we headed north in a caravan of six buses, I wondered if Arnold had planned on running for governor years ago and would only star in movies with titles relevant to an election. The two lead buses, occupied by Arnold and his VIP's, were named after his action films "Running Man" and "Total Recall", how ironic is that? Hollywood could not have scripted this any better. The four media buses were simply called "Predator."
Our first real stop of the day was in Costa Mesa, California. Thousands of people were corralled into a ring of metal barriers. They cheered and chanted "Arnold, Arnold, Arnold" as our buses pulled in, thinking that the man of the hour had arrived. To their disappointment, it was only the 200 media types that filed off. The chanting stopped.
No matter what city or small town we stopped in, every rally was very scripted. Occasionally, there would be a few minor changes, but for the most part, it was pretty much the same. The Twisted Sister song would come on, fans would cheer, Arnold would walk on stage with his huge smile, give the thumbs-up, give a little speech with his compelling Austrian accent, toss out one-liners like "Terminate Davis" and "Hasta la Vista Car Tax", throw some campaign t-shirts to the crowd while making his way back to the bus, and smack hands with the folks pressed up against the stage. It never really changed, although many of us hoped that they would stop playing the loop tape of that Twisted Sister song. It still lingers in my brain.
The rally was huge, thousands in attendance with Join Arnold signs. Arnold pumped up the crowd by giving a spirited speech while holding a broom pledging to "clean up Cal-ee-for-nyah!" The big highlight of the event was Dee Snider of Twisted Sister singing that song over and over again. Arnold even joined him on air guitar before leaving the stage.
Two days after the rally in Sacramento, California voters chose to recall Governor Davis and elected Arnold Schwarzenegger to govern the troubled state. The bus tour was quite a wild ride, but I think it will pale in comparison to what we're in for as governor-elect Schwarzenegger takes office. I just hope he will stop playing that Twisted Sister song.
© Justin Sullivan
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