The Power of Positive Thinking

Governor Schwarzenegger laid out a bold vision for the future of America last night at the Republican convention, important for the nation, important for Silicon Valley. The governor stopped in our little town recently on a fundraiser for President Bush. We hope he picks up the standard on the war against Alzheimer's Disease with the powerful vigor he demonstrated, the power to act, not just talk. Mr. Schwarzenegger's wife, Maria Shriver has comforted thousands with her book helping families understand the changes wrought by the disease, if you haven't read it, you should. Meanwhile, another day is passing and we have again passed the century mark in terms of new members. Thanks again for your support.

New York -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, completing his transformation from muscular curiosity to political powerhouse, told a national television audience Tuesday that "America is back'' - and delivered a rousing, crowd- pleasing endorsement of George W. Bush that downplayed his differences with the president.

"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,'' Schwarzenegger -- in a play on his signature "Terminator" movie line -- told the nearly 5,000 delegates to the Republican National Convention. "We're back because of the perseverance, character and leadership of the 43rd president of the United States, George W. Bush.''

In a finely tuned address, thick with applause lines, Schwarzenegger electrified the crowd with the story of his immigrant journey to America and his arm-pumping tale of "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.''

While Schwarzenegger's more moderate views on issues such as legalized abortion, gay rights and gun control don't mesh with those of Bush -- or the generally conservative convention delegates -- the governor argued that was no problem for his party.

"That's what's great about this country,'' the Austrian-born immigrant said. "Here we can respectfully disagree and still be patriotic, still be American and still be good Republicans.''

But Schwarzenegger's story wasn't really about Bush's re-election or even about politics. Instead, he focused on his adopted country, a land of hope, opportunity and dreams for a boy growing up during the Soviet occupation of Austria. America is still "the lamp lighting the world,'' he said, for new immigrants, as it was for him.

Schwarzenegger's career as a champion bodybuilder and Hollywood superstar has been characterized by a sense of showmanship and raucous fun that didn't disappear when he was elected governor last October, not even when he talked on the national stage.

"To those critics who are so pessimistic about our country, I say: Don't be economic girlie men,'' the finger-wagging governor said, breaking up the crowd with a line that brought him grief when he used it during California's budget battle earlier this summer.

That showmanship carried over to the California delegation, where members donned Terminator-style wraparound sunglasses, bobblehead lapel pins and "I'm with Arnold" T-shirts.

While Schwarzenegger's speech might have been the marquee event on the second night of the GOP convention, he shared the prime-time stage with first lady Laura Bush, who delivered a low-key and highly personal endorsement of her husband.

George Bush today is "still the same person I met at a backyard barbecue in Midland, Texas, and married three months later,'' she said. "He'll always tell you what he really thinks. You can count on him, especially in a crisis. His friends don't change -- and neither do his values.

Laura Bush painted an intimate picture of a president who has agonized over his decisions , sitting quietly through family dinners, walking alone on the White House lawn and crying with families who have lost loved ones.

"I was there when my husband had to decide,'' she said. "Once again, as in our parents' generation, America had to make the tough choices, the hard decisions, and lead the world toward greater security and freedom.''

Although the president typically doesn't show up at the convention hall until it's time to give his acceptance speech, Bush sidestepped that tradition Tuesday, introducing his wife in a live video feed from Pennsylvania, where he is campaigning.

"I have the best and easiest job of this convention,'' said the president, looking proud and relaxed in an open-collar shirt. "I am a lucky man to have Laura at my side.''

It was Schwarzenegger, though, who brought the Madison Square Garden crowd to its feet with a speech that showcased the charisma and political savvy that has propelled him from movie action hero to GOP superstar in little more than a year. With a billboard-sized American flag waving behind him on the video monitor, he was confident and comfortable as only a veteran actor can be. He controlled the crowd from his self-deprecating opening joke, waiting patiently for the applause he knew would come and gesturing straight into the camera to make his points.

But Schwarzenegger -- a pro-choice, pro-gay rights Republican married to a prominent member of the Kennedy family -- also was a critical part of the GOP effort to attract independent, swing and disaffected Democratic voters who may help sway the Nov. 2 election.

"To think that a once-scrawny boy from Austria could grow up to become governor of the state of California and stand here in Madison Square Garden and speak on behalf of the president of the United States -- that is an immigrant's dream,'' Schwarzenegger, 57, said as his wife, Maria Shriver, and four children watched. "It is the American dream.''

The Republican message of free enterprise, a strong military and a smaller government should provide the same lure to immigrants that it did when he arrived in the United States in 1968, penniless and unable to speak English, Schwarzenegger said.

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

The speech earned rave reviews from the California delegation.

"He nailed it,'' said former Gov. Pete Wilson. "It was a very personal and passionate speech ... and it had the appeal that it did because of the candor.''

A beaming Gerald Parsky, a Southern California financier who leads Bush's state campaign, pronounced the speech "phenomenal. ... I've always been proud to be a Republican. But tonight, I'm especially proud to be a Californian.''

Democrats said Schwarzenegger's speech -- and his whole New York visit -- was a carefully crafted, Hollywood-style attempt to paper over Schwarzenegger's many differences with the president and his own party.

"It's another example of the Republicans masquerading around, trying to hide the truth,'' said David Chai, a Democratic Party spokesman.

Earlier in the day, the governor went to Fire Station 54 in midtown Manhattan, which lost many of its firefighters in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. Surrounded by about a dozen firefighters, the governor led a moment of silence for those killed in the Sept. 11 attacks.

"I'm not the real hero," he told the firefighters. "You're the real heroes. It takes balls to do what you do."

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