NEW YORK – Terminator 3 star Arnold Schwarzenegger (search) says he'll run for governor if California needs him.
"I've said it before and I'll say it again. Yes," he said emphatically, when Fox News asked if he would consider running for governor of California if the state needed him.
Schwarzenegger, a staunch Republican who is married to NBC News correspondent Maria Shriver, part of the Democratic Kennedy clan, has been flirting with the idea of running for governor of his home state since Democratic Gov. Gray Davis was re-elected last November.
Arnold was attending an auction of limited items from his new movie Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines at designer Audmars-Piquet's flagship watch store in midtown Manhattan Monday night.
Proceeds from the auction will go to Arnold's Inner City Games Foundation (search), a charity organization that promotes after-school programs for kids.
"I have been involved with after-school programs for the last 10 years," said Schwarzenegger in his unmistakable Austrian accent.
"And the reason is because I had a good childhood," he said. "I think that my childhood and the education that I received when I grew up helped so much when I came to this country -- to be strong, to be determined, and to have a lot of will to succeed in life," he said.
If Arnold runs for political office he would be one of several actors who changed professions, including President Ronald Reagan, who went from the California governor's mansion to the White House, and Dirty Harry actor Clint Eastwood, who was mayor of Carmel, Calif.
Other entertainers, like Law and Order's Fred Thompson (search), R-Tenn., and the late singer Sonny Bono, R-Calif., also served in Washington: Thompson as a senator, Bono as a congressman.
"This is the land of opportunity," said Arnold. "But you have to have a foundation in order to utilize all those opportunities," he said, citing a strong mind and a strong body as some of the tools needed for that foundation.
"I think the American dream is very much alive," he said. "Anyone willing to work hard can make it in this country and can make it really big."
Indeed, Arnold knows what he's talking about. Although he was already Mr. Universe (search) when he arrived in America in the 1970s, his English was sketchy and his acting skills were minimal at best.
Schwarzenegger went on to become one of the world's biggest action movie stars with The Terminator series and such hits as Total Recall and Predator.
He's now a serious contender for California's highest state political office.