FROM THE 2004 REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION
NEW YORK • AUGUST 31, 2004
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
I was born in Europe ...and I've traveled all over the world.
I can tell you that there is no place, no country, more compassionate,
more generous, more accepting and more welcoming than the
United States of America.
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
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
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
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!
And trust me, in my wife's family, that's no small achievement!
I'm proud to belong to the party of Abraham Lincoln, the
party of Teddy Roosevelt, the party of Ronald Reagan and
the party of George W. Bush.
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. In this country, it doesn't make any difference
where you were born. It doesn't make any difference who your
parents were. It doesn't make any difference if, like me,
you couldn't even speak English until you were in your twenties.
America gave me opportunities and my immigrant dreams came
true. I want other people to get the same chances I did,
the same opportunities. And I believe they can. That's why
I believe in this country, that's why I believe in this party
and that's why I believe in this President.
Now, many of you out there tonight are "Republican" like
me in your hearts and in your beliefs. Maybe you're from
Guatemala. Maybe you're from the Philippines. Maybe Europe
or the Ivory Coast. Maybe you live in Ohio, Pennsylvania
or New Mexico. And maybe, just maybe, you don't agree with
this party on every single issue. I say to you tonight I
believe that's not only okay, that's what's great about this
country. Here we can respectfully disagree and still be patriotic,
still be American and still be good Republicans.
My fellow immigrants, my fellow Americans, how do you know
if you are a Republican? I'll tell you how.
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 our educational system
should be held accountable for the progress of our children,
then you are a Republican! If you believe this country, not
the United Nations, is the best hope of democracy in the
world, 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. Don't you remember the pessimism of 20 years ago
when the critics said Japan and Germany were overtaking the
Now they say India and China are overtaking us. Don't you
believe it! We may hit a few bumps -- but America always
moves ahead! That's what Americans do!
We move prosperity ahead. We move freedom ahead. We move
people ahead. Under President Bush and Vice President Cheney,
America's economy is moving ahead in spite of a recession
they inherited and in spite of the attack on our homeland.
Now, the other party says there are two Americas. Don't
believe that either. I've visited our troops in Iraq, Kuwait,
Bosnia, Germany and all over the world. I've visited our
troops in California, where they train before they go overseas.
And I've visited our military hospitals. And I can tell you
this: Our young men and women in uniform do not believe there
are two Americas!
They believe we are one America and they are fighting for
it! We are one America -- and President Bush is defending
it with all his heart and soul!
That's what I admire most about the President. He's a man
He's a man of inner strength. He is a leader who doesn't
flinch, doesn't waiver, does not back down. My fellow Americans,
make no mistake about it. Terrorism is more insidious than
communism, because it yearns to destroy not just the individual,
but the entire international order. The President didn't
go into Iraq because the polls told him it was popular. As
a matter of fact, the polls said just the opposite. But leadership
isn't about polls. It's about making decisions you think
are right and then standing behind those decisions. That's
why America is safer with George W. Bush as president.
He knows you don't reason with terrorists. You defeat them.
He knows you can't reason with people blinded by hate. They
hate the power of the individual. They hate the progress
of women. They hate the religious freedom of others. They
hate the liberating breeze of democracy. But ladies and gentlemen,
their hate is no match for America's decency.
We're the America that sends out Peace Corps volunteers
to teach village children. We're the America that sends out
missionaries and doctors to raise up the poor and the sick.
We're the America that gives more than any other country,
to fight AIDS in Africa and the developing world. And we're
the America that fights not for imperialism but for human
rights and democracy.
You know, when the Germans brought down the Berlin Wall,
America's determination helped wield the sledgehammers. When
that lone, young Chinese man stood in front of those tanks
in Tiananmen Square, America's hopes stood with him. And
when Nelson Mandela smiled in election victory after all
those years in prison, America celebrated, too.
We are still the lamp lighting the world especially for
those who struggle. No matter in what labor camp they slave,
no matter in what injustice they're trapped, they hear our
call, they see our light, and they feel the pull of our freedom.
They come here as I did because they believe. They believe
They come because their hearts say to them, as mine did, "If
only I can get to America." Someone once wrote: "There
are those who say that freedom is nothing but a dream." They
are right. It's the American dream.
No matter the nationality, no matter the religion, no matter
the ethnic background, America brings out the best in people.
And as governor of the great state of California, I see the
best in Americans every day -- our police, our firefighters,
our nurses, doctors, and teachers, our parents.
And what about the extraordinary men and women who have
volunteered to fight for the United States of America! I
have such great respect for them and their heroic families.
Let me tell you about the sacrifice and commitment I've
seen firsthand. In one of the military hospitals I visited,
I met a young guy who was in bad shape. He'd lost a leg had
a hole in his stomach, his shoulder had been shot through.
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.
My fellow Americans, I want you to know that I believe with
all my heart that America remains "the great idea" that
inspires the world. It's a privilege to be born here. It's
an honor to become a citizen here. It's a gift to raise your
family here, to vote here and to live here.
Our president, George W. Bush, has worked hard to protect
and preserve the American dream for all of us. That's why
I say, send him back to Washington for four more years!
Thank you, America, and God bless you all!
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