SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Despite a broken right leg, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger kicked off his second term yesterday promising "post-partisanship" leadership in which Democrats and Republicans don't simply compromise but forge new ideas together.
In an inaugural speech in which he compared California's cultural diversity and "harmony" with genocide in Darfur and "bloodshed and hate" in the Middle East, the Republican governor portrayed California as a utopian "nation-state" that should serve as a model for the rest of the world because of its apparent peace and prosperity.
Making his first public appearance since breaking his leg on the Idaho ski slopes before Christmas, Schwarzenegger used crutches to move across the stage at Sacramento's Memorial Auditorium and take the oath of office from California Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald George in front of an estimated 3,000 invited guests and donors.
"Every day has been an adventure," the governor joked at the top of his inaugural address. "As a matter of fact, my escapes have been more hair-raising than anything I've ever done in the movies."
Schwarzenegger was joined on the stage by former governors - Republican Pete Wilson and Democrat Gray Davis, the man he defeated in the 2003 recall - and a large contingent of mayors, statewide officials and his family, including first lady Maria Shriver and their four children, and his mother-in-law, Eunice Kennedy Shriver.
Similar to Davis' 1999 inaugural pledge to "ring down the curtain on the politics of division," the governor's 15-minute address focused on the broad theme of centrism. He suggested that his bipartisan political approach last year is emblematic of a greater unity in the state.
"As I begin this new term as your governor, I make this simple pledge to the people of California," he said. "I will look to the future. I will look to the center. And I will look to the dreams of the people."
Schwarzenegger noted that nearly a fifth of the state's voters decline to state a party preference.
"If the current trend continues," he said, independent voters "will outnumber each of the major parties in 20 years. They like some Republican ideas. But then they like some Democratic ideas. They think some Republican ideas are too far to the right. They think some Democratic ideas are too far left. And they rightly know that if you just stick to one party's proposals, you miss half the good ideas."
The Republican governor proposed a centrist political model that he dubbed "post-partisanship" and called for a greater "Party of California" that supersedes ideology.
"Post-partisanship is not simply Republicans and Democrats each bringing their proposals to the table and working out differences," Schwarzenegger said. "Post-partisanship is Republicans and Democrats actively giving birth to new ideas together. I believe that it would promote a new centrism and a new trust in our political system. And I believe that we have a window to do it right now."
The governor is scheduled to deliver more specific plans for providing health insurance to the state's 6.5 million uninsured during an address Monday. He will plot the rest of his agenda Tuesday at the State of the State address at the Capitol and will unveil his budget proposal Wednesday.