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Total Recall: California’s Political Circus

It reads like a movie script. The year? 2003. The mission? Defeat hundreds of challengers to save the state of California and become its leader. But this wasn't a movie... it was a real-life election for governor that featured adult film stars, sumo wrestlers, comedians, and ended with the election of action star Arnold Schwarzenegger. In Total Recall: California’s Political Circus, CNN’s Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash will unpack the scandal, partisanship, and celebrity of the Golden State’s 2003 recall election – and explore what it might have forecasted about politics today.

Arnold Schwarzenegger circa 2003 is against a neon background containing the Hollywood sign and palm trees

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Lights, Camera, Politician
Total Recall: California’s Political Circus
Sep 22, 2021

In 2003 Arnold Schwarzenegger was arguably the most famous person in the world, which made him an unstoppable political force. And though it felt like a unique moment in history, celebrity and politics have a rich and complicated history. In this episode, we dig into the origins of the “celebrity candidate”, the challenges fame brings to a campaign, and how Schwarzenegger used his larger-than-life persona to find political success.