Schwarzenegger Sworn in for Second Term

The Associated Press
Friday, January 5, 2007; 4:38 PM

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Hobbling to his inauguration on crutches, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger promised Friday not to be beholden to a political party in his second term and declared that "centrist does not mean weak."

Nursing a badly broken right leg, Schwarzenegger missed the first part of the program before coming out to deliver his speech.

Centrist "does not mean watered down or warmed over," he said. "It means well-balanced and well-grounded."

The Republican governor said his dismal year in 2005, when a clash with the state's public employees union cut his approval rating in half, had awakened him to a new way of doing business.

"Like Paul on the road to Damascus, I had an experience that opened my eyes," he said. "And what was it that I saw? I saw that people, not just in California, but across the nation, were hungry for a new kind of politics, a politics that looks beyond the old labels, the old ways, the old arguments."

Schwarzenegger said growing numbers of independent voters are showing the way to a new era of what he called "post-partisanship." And he called for a new "creative center" in politics.

"This is a dynamic center that is not held captive by either the left or the right or the past," he said.

The state's 38th governor was sworn in by California Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald George, using a Schwarzenegger family Bible from 1878.

To burnish his bipartisan credentials, Schwarzenegger invited the state's top Democrats, including Rep. Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, who on Thursday became the first woman speaker of the House, and Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, although none of them attended.

The master of ceremonies was another famous Democrat, former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, who once was speaker of the state Assembly.

The symbolism is important for Schwarzenegger, who will need the cooperation of Democrats again this year as he attempts ambitious reforms in health care and prisons. Democrats hold majorities in both houses of the Legislature.

© 2007 The Associated Press