- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 1, 2004

Excerpts of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s speech to the Republican National Convention as prepared for delivery last night at Madison Square Garden in New York.

What a greeting. This is like winning an Oscar.

As if I would know.

Speaking of acting, one of my movies was called “True Lies.” It’s what the Democrats should have called their convention.

My fellow Americans, this is an amazing moment for me. To think that a once-scrawny boy from Austria could grow up to become governor of California and stand in Madison Square Garden to speak on behalf of the president of the United States — that is an immigrant’s dream. It is the American dream. …

Tonight, I want to talk about why I’m even more proud to be an American, why I’m proud to be a Republican, and why I believe this country is in good hands.

When I was a boy, the Soviets occupied part of Austria. I saw their tanks in the streets. I saw communism with my own eyes. … My family and so many others lived in fear of the Soviet boot. Today, the world no longer fears the Soviet Union — and it is because of the United States of America.

As a kid I saw the socialist country that Austria became after the Soviets left. I love Austria and I love the Austrian people — but I always knew America was the place for me. … Everything about America seemed so big to me — so open, so possible.

I finally arrived here in 1968. I had empty pockets, but I was full of dreams. The presidential campaign was in full swing. I remember watching the Nixon and Humphrey presidential race on TV. A friend … translated for me. I heard Humphrey saying things that sounded like socialism — which is what I had just left. But then I heard Nixon speak. He was talking about free enterprise, getting government off your back, lowering taxes, and strengthening the military. Listening to Nixon speak sounded more like a breath of fresh air.

I said to my friend, “What party is he?” My friend said, “He’s a Republican.”

I said, “Then I am a Republican.” And I’ve been a Republican ever since.

And trust me, in my wife’s family, that’s no small achievement. …

To my fellow immigrants listening tonight, I want you to know how welcome you are in this party. We Republicans admire your ambition. We encourage your dreams. We believe in your future.

One thing I learned about America is that if you work hard and play by the rules, this country is truly open to you. You can achieve anything. Everything I have — my career, my success, my family — I owe to America. …

If you believe that government should be accountable to the people, not the people to the government, then you are a Republican. If you believe a person should be treated as an individual, not as a member of an interest group, then you are a Republican. If you believe your family knows how to spend your money better than the government does, then you are a Republican. …

If you believe this country, not the United Nations, is the best hope of democracy, then you are a Republican.

And, ladies and gentlemen, if you believe we must be fierce and relentless and terminate terrorism, then you are a Republican.

There is another way you can tell you’re a Republican. You have faith in free enterprise, faith in the resourcefulness of the American people, and faith in the U.S. economy.

To those critics who are so pessimistic about our economy, I say: Don’t be economic girlie men.

The U.S. economy remains the envy of the world. We have the highest economic growth of any of the world’s major industrialized nations. …

In one of the military hospitals I visited, I met a young guy who was in bad shape. … I could tell there was no way he could ever return to combat. But when I asked him, “When do you think you’ll get out of the hospital?” He said, “Sir, in three weeks.”

And do you know what he said to me then? He said he was going to get a new leg, and get some therapy, and then he was going back to Iraq to serve alongside his buddies. He grinned at me and said, “Arnold … I’ll be back!”

Ladies and gentlemen, America is back — back from the attack on our homeland, back from the attack on our economy, back from the attack on our way of life.

We’re back because of the perseverance, character and leadership of the 43rd president of the United States, George W. Bush.

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