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THE REPUBLICAN CONVENTION

Schwarzenegger's Close-Up

September 01, 2004

Tony Quinn, a GOP political consultant in Sacramento, raised an intriguing possibility in a newsletter Tuesday, hours before California's governor stepped onto the podium in New York: The U.S. Constitution doesn't seem to bar Austrian-born Arnold Schwarzenegger from becoming vice president.

But it's hard to envision Schwarzenegger as No. 2 in anything, much less worry about how he could constitutionally serve if the presidency went vacant. For all the might-have-beens and could-bes, millions of Americans got a taste Tuesday night of what California knows, that Schwarzenegger is more than a caricature of his film self. He wove a compelling story of "a once-scrawny boy" coming to the United States from the stifling socialism of Austria, seeking opportunity and forging success for himself, from bodybuilder to actor to governor.

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

Those words no doubt were sincere, but Schwarzenegger's promise to veto a bill that would allow illegal immigrants to obtain driver's licenses may dim the luster of his speech among Latinos. The governor does occasionally say things one way and do them another.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday September 04, 2004 Home Edition California Part B Page 22 Editorial Pages Desk 1 inches; 56 words Type of Material: Correction
Schwarzenegger -- An editorial Wednesday quoted a political consultant as saying the U.S. Constitution did not seem to bar a foreign-born person such as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger from becoming vice president. However, the 12th Amendment, ratified in 1804, closed such a prospect by declaring that the qualifications for vice president were the same as for president.

In his address Schwarzenegger played the loyal warrior, another thoroughgoing moderate finding a way to call unreservedly for President Bush's reelection, praising the commander in chief in Terminator terms as "a leader who doesn't flinch and who doesn't waver."

He painted a dazzling picture of a prosperous, diverse, strong and generous America under Republican leadership. He emphasized his own pro-business fiscal conservatism and left unmentioned his own awkward, to many Republican leaders, positions on abortion, stem-cell research, protection of the environment and gun control. He did say it was possible to disagree and "still be patriotic ... still be good Republicans!"

Schwarzenegger's in-laws are in the enemy camp, and he worked more closely with majority Democrats in the Legislature this year than with Republicans, who opposed his attempts to find a middle course in closing budget gaps. He infuriated both sides with his combination of full-bore cajoling and half-funny threats.

But the job of an action hero is to get things done. The nation on Tuesday night saw the charm, chutzpah, good humor and determination that Schwarzenegger mixes to move things along, including the president's reelection bid. He even worked in a way to say "girlie men"--a line that brought delegates to their feet.

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