Arnold Schwarzenegger explains debate style, with Arianna Huffington impersonation

In a conversation with the Post's Ned Martel in Washington, D.C. Tuesday night, former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger reveals his debate strategy in the 2003 recall election that propelled him into office. 

“In the debates, I thought my strength was not policy in 2003,"  he said. "My strength was personality, was... me.”

One of the other candidates was Arianna Huffington, running as an independent. According to Schwarzenegger, she played right into his hands. (According to his impersonation, she is also Italian.)

“When it got into the details, I rather used comedy, used humor. That was the important thing," he said. "That’s why Arianna Huffington played into all my stuff. She was perfect. She kept whining, ‘Oh, Arnold, you always say this and you are always, you’re terrible. You’re making so much money.' And you know, here was this whiny woman sitting there. And I said, I’m gonna get her and bang, and I say, ‘You know something, I just got an idea: when I do Terminator 4, you’re going to play the female Terminator, next movie!’ And she was outraged because she just saw Terminator 3 and I took the female Terminator and stuck her head in the toilet. And she immediately said, ‘This is outrageous, the way you deal with women. This is so typical of Schwarzenschnitzel. This is terrible. He wants to put my head in a toilet.’ And I say, ‘Yeah, what’s wrong with that?”

The event was sponsored by Washington Post Live and held in conjunction with Washington D.C.'s Politics & Prose bookstore, to discuss Schwarzenegger's new memoir, "Total Recall." 

Ned Martel contributed to this report.

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.
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Rachel Weiner · October 3, 2012