Add another chapter to the ongoing star war between President Donald Trump and Arnold Schwarzenegger. By way of dimly-lit video shot from an urban waterfront, Schwarzenegger mocked the president’s low approval ratings via Twitter on Tuesday.
The former California governor and actor was not above tossing a few barbs in the president’s direction. “Donald, the ratings are in, and you got swamped,” said Schwarzenegger, a Republican but not a Trump supporter. “Wow. Now you’re in the 30s?”
Trump’s daily approval rating, per the Gallup poll, hit 37 percent over the weekend. It marked a new floor for the young presidency and was, in the context of past presidents, dismal. The approval rating was “lower than Barack Obama experienced at any point over the course of his presidency,” as The Washington Post’s Philip Bump pointed out (while noting the Gallup survey represented only one data point from one poll).
In the Trump vs. Terminator feud, Twitter appears to be the preferred battleground. And poor ratings are the ammunition.
While president-elect, Trump drew blood in early January. He publicly pointed out that Schwarzenegger, who succeeded Trump as host of NBC’s “The New Celebrity Apprentice,” in 2017 was unable to match the audiences that the Trump drew when “The Apprentice” first premiered.
“Wow, the ratings are in and Arnold Schwarzenegger got ‘swamped’ (or destroyed) by comparison to the ratings machine, DJT,” Trump tweeted on Jan. 6. (Although Trump’s earliest episodes of “The Apprentice” had high Nelson ratings, by the time Trump hosted season 15 the rush of viewers had petered out to a trickle.)
Observers noted that it was a bizarre move for the executive producer of a show to publicly excoriate its host. Schwarzenegger responded by quoting Abraham Lincoln: “Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.”
And, yet, even an invocation of Honest Abe could not derail Trump from knocking Schwarzenegger.
“They hired a big, big movie star, Arnold Schwarzenegger, to take my place. We know how that turned out. The ratings went right down the tube,” Trump said at the National Prayer Breakfast in February. “I want to just pray for Arnold for those ratings.”
If this friction was somehow embellished to draw eyeballs to “The New Celebrity Apprentice,” it proved to be a failure. And when Schwarzenegger announced on March 3 that he was leaving after a poorly-viewed first season, Trump skewered the former host for a swift exit.
“Arnold Schwarzenegger isn’t voluntarily leaving the Apprentice, he was fired by his bad (pathetic) ratings, not by me. Sad end to great show,” tweeted Trump on March 4.
Schwarzenegger responded that, not only was it his choice to leave, Trump’s association with the show proved to be toxic. “With Trump being involved in the show people have a bad taste and don’t want to participate as a spectator or as a sponsor or in any other way support the show,” he told Empire in an interview.
On Tuesday, it was Schwarzenegger’s turn to dissect the president’s low approval ratings. He drew a line from the survey to the proposed 2018 federal budget, which slashes funding to the Environmental Protection Agency and State Department and cuts that would impact popular aid programs like Meals on Wheels.
“What do you expect? I mean, you take away after-school programs from children and Meals on Wheels from the poor people,” Schwarzenegger said in the video. “That’s not what you call ‘Making America Great Again.’ Come on.”
Included in the tweet was link to After-School All-Stars, which Schwarzenegger founded, and an offer to accompany the president for a visit to the Hart Middle School in Washington, D.C.
“Let me give you some advice, go to a middle school. The Hart Middle School, right in Washington, six miles away from the White House. I take you there, so you can see the fantastic work that they’re doing for these children. Let’s do it, yeah?”
As of early Wednesday morning, the presidential Twitter feed remained silent on the matter.
(c) 2017, The Washington Post · Ben Guarino, Travis M. Andrews