Tuesday, August 31, 2004

The Southwest Virginia-Schwarzenegger connection

The LA Times has this amusing story ("Far From Left Coast, Many See Schwarzenegger as Mr. Right," 8/31/04), about the views of Southwest Virginians on Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The article, with a dateline from Vinton, begins:

"At the Roanoke County GOP's annual Shrimpfest, the subject was November's national election. The crowd and speakers were as spicy as the fish, spitting out fiery, conservative opinions against abortion, gay rights and restrictions on gun ownership.

But as these southwest Virginians watch this week's Republican National Convention, many said, the speech most are interested in hearing is tonight's address by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a self-styled moderate. That's because from afar, Schwarzenegger looks to many very conservative Republicans like one of their own."

The article quotes one critic as saying Arnold is like a "cartoon," but continues:

"If so, it is a cartoon for which people here in Vinton, a town of 7,782 on the city of Roanoke's southeastern border, have fallen.

More than 200 Republicans paid $20 per ticket to attend the county GOP Shrimpfest at a senior center in the middle of town, across the parking lot from the Vinton War Memorial. Many here said they had heard more about Schwarzenegger than any politician in America. Some said they were fans of his movies. A few had spotted news reports that Schwarzenegger ordered two pairs of shoes from Italian shoemaker Silvano Lattanzi just for the convention."

The article concludes with comments from Kevin Triplett:

"Some Virginia politicians seem eager to borrow from Schwarzenegger's political playbook.

Kevin Triplett, a NASCAR executive who is running for Congress here, disagrees with the California governor on nearly every social issue, but nevertheless wants to emulate him.

"He's an example to the party, that someone can come in without holding office and make an impact," Triplett said. "Plus, he's Arnold. And that plays well anywhere.""

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