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US_NEWS_SCHWARZENEGGER_4_ABA.jpgBy Rob Hotakainen in Washington:

While Republican leaders in Washington are urging President Barack Obama to start from scratch on a health-care bill, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Monday dismissed the idea as "bogus talk."

It marked the second day in a row that Schwarzenegger strayed from his party's positions.

On Sunday, he defended Obama's economic stimulus plan and chided elected officials, most of them Republicans, who oppose the overall stimulus but are quick to trumpet individual projects in their states that are paid for the stimulus.

Standing outside the White House after meeting privately with Obama on Monday, Schwarzenegger touted the economic stimulus plan yet again.

"I think the stimulus package has been very successful so far and I think California has benefitted tremendously," he said.

Schwarzenegger also said it's good that the president is reaching out to Republicans as he prepares for this week's health-care summit with congressional leaders.

"Since half of the people are Republicans, why would you exclude Republicans?" he asked. "Then half of the people hate you for having done health-care reform."

And he sided with Obama, saying it would be wrong to start all over in preparing health-care legislation for Congress to consider.

"I think any Republican that says you should start from scratch, I think that's bogus talk, and that's partisan talk," the governor told reporters.

Obama met with the governors as a group Monday morning. Schwarzenegger was the only governor to get a private meeting later with the president.

Schwarzenegger said he discussed a wide array of issues with the president, including roads and bridges, high-speed rail, education and creating new tax incentives for energy-efficient homes.

But he said the economy was the top issue.

"It was truly encouraging to see him being so interested in talking about job creation being his number-one priority," Schwarzenegger said.

IMAGE: California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger leaves the West Wing after meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama February 22, 2010 in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC. (Olivier Douliery/ Abaca Press/ MCT)



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