- The Washington Times - Friday, February 5, 2016

Hearing news today that former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger endorsed his friend John Kasich for President got me thinking about some of the high points of the Governator’s political career. No, I don’t mean his home-wrecking infidelities. I’m referring to his stellar speech given at the 2004 Republican National Convention.

Though only twelve years has passed, it is amazing how many things have changed since that night. Though Republicans now invoke the memory of former President Ronald Reagan as an ancient sage from yesteryear, Reagan had only died just three months earlier. VIP faces in the crowd included politicians yet alive, but now gone from the scene, like Rudy Giuliani and Tommy Thompson.

And the generational change in only twelve years is amazing. When the Republicans Conventioned in 2004, neither Ted Cruz nor Marco Rubio were yet old enough, according to the U.S. Constitution, to have become the President.

Speaking of change, it is remarkable that the results from Iowa last Monday night revealed a GOP with two Cubans and one African-American earning three out of the top four spots in the caucus. What a contrast to the two white bread candidates fighting for the Democratic nomination.

And further, don’t overlook that both Cruz and Rubio were born in the 1970s. The win by Cruz marked the first time anyone born in the 1970s has won a primary or caucus for either political party.

Generation X has arrived. Witness the ascendancy of the children of the eighties.

Again, what a contrast to the candidates of the Democratic Party.

But as much as the Republican scene has changed since 2004, the words spoken by Gov. Schwarzenegger have not grown outdated or stale. The spirit of his message needs to be rekindled by the current candidates looking to lead the party of Reagan, Roosevelt, Lincoln.

And throw Nixon in there too. Schwarzenegger said it was hearing Nixon speak in 1968 that led him to be a Republican. No “girly man” socialism for the Governor.

As long as I live, I will never forget that day 21 years ago when I raised my hand and took the oath of citizenship.

Do you know how proud I was? I was so proud that I walked around with an American flag around my shoulders all day long.

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. I remember the fear we had when we had to cross into the Soviet sector. Growing up, we were told, “Don’t look the soldiers in the eye. Look straight ahead.” It was a common belief that Soviet soldiers could take a man out of his own car and ship him off to the Soviet Union as slave labor.

My family didn’t have a car — but one day we were in my uncle’s car. It was near dark as we came to a Soviet checkpoint. I was a little boy, I wasn’t an action hero back then, and I remember how scared I was that the soldiers would pull my father or my uncle out of the car and I’d never see him again. 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. In school, when the teacher would talk about America, I would daydream about coming here. I would sit for hours watching American movies transfixed by my heroes like John Wayne. 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 who spoke German and English, 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! 

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