For most politicians a book detailing past infidelities, marijuana use and even an unknowing cameo in a gay porno film would be most unwelcome just two months before a re-election bid.
Yet when California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's first serious girlfriend wrote a memoir that is being published this week, he embraced the project, offering a foreword and lengthy interview for the 325-page tome.
Barbara Outland Baker, 58, met Schwarzenegger in 1969 shortly after he arrived from Austria and they dated for six years, living together for four of them, a time during which he became the world's most famous muscleman.
"For six years, I lived to inhale the essence of Arnold Schwarzenegger," Baker writes in her book Arnold and Me: In the Shadow of the Austrian Oak.
"Since our time ended, I have lived to exorcise his power over my psyche. I have not mastered this particular talent, however; the longer we have been apart, the more I realise I can never escape this man's shadow."
In an interview on Tuesday, Baker, who teaches writing at a college in Southern California, said Schwarzenegger's oversized persona still affects her life three decades after they broke up.
"Of course I am not in love with Arnold! Once he gets in your skin, there is just no total letting go because of the frequency in which you hear about him and so the world makes me react to him all the time," she said. "So he is far more active in my psyche than an old boyfriend would otherwise be."
Although Schwarzenegger's wild past was a big issue in the 2003 campaign that brought him to office, the subject has not been an issue in his effort to win a second term and the Republican is far ahead in polls.
The memoir describes a Californian college senior who meets a cocky bodybuilder in a cafe where she is a waitress. Pages are devoted to her struggle to keep her virginity. Yet, sex later becomes a vital force in a relationship she desperately wanted to turn into marriage.
"One condition was certain; we could always rely on making love to recharge our intimate connection," Baker writes. "Our emotional life created turbulence, but our passion justified the challenges."
Baker ultimately learns her boyfriend was unfaithful, which she says Schwarzenegger only admitted years after they split.
|Even though the memoir has details of the governor's wild past, Schwarzenegger himself wrote a foreword and sat for a lengthy interview|
Schwarzenegger himself wrote of the relationship.
"Basically it came down to this," he said in his 1977 memoir Arnold: The Education of a Bodybuilder. "She was a well-balanced woman who wanted an ordinary, solid life, and I was not a well-balanced man and hated the very idea of ordinary life."
In the book's foreward, Schwarzenegger updates his thoughts on the end of their affair.
"Two years later, I met Maria (Shriver), who would become my true love, my soul mate, my partner in life," the governor writes of his wife. "I knew that Barbara's even-headedness would sustain her throughout our break-up, but with the perspective of time and in reading her story, I realise just how painful that period in her life was."
In the interview, Baker said in retrospect she should have broken off her relationship after two years when it became clear marriage was not in the cards.
Her self-published memoir details the sometimes wild early life of the future star of the Terminator films, including his introduction to marijuana. She tells of watching the porno film Deep Throat with Schwarzenegger, and later seeing footage of his bodybuilding routine used in a gay sex film. Furious, Schwarzenegger demanded removal of the images.
She also said the fiercely competitive Schwarzenegger could be a difficult companion ahead of contests. "During these sun-filled months, I had become conditioned to endure an emotionless, increasingly self-centred robot," Baker writes.
They have seen each other occasionally over the years, and Schwarzenegger sat down for a three-hour interview for the book in 2004.
Arnold and Me is dedicated to her husband of 13 years John Baker, 63, her fourth.
In an interview, John Baker said he felt a bit unusual for his wife to write so intimately of an earlier lover.
"I'm certainly sensitive to it, but I think it's important that people really understand how she felt then," Baker said. "Initially, it was kind of like, gosh, Barbara, do you really want to say all this stuff?"