Austrians Root for Schwarzenegger

Hundreds of partygoers in Arnold Schwarzenegger's (search) home region packed into a bar Tuesday evening to cheer on their native son and await news of whether he would become California's next governor.

Chanting "Go Arnie, go!" the party participants sipped "Stars and Stripes" cocktails and a drink dubbed the "Gouvernator" in a crowded tavern-like bar in downtown Graz (search) — a historic city in southern Austria just a few a miles from Schwarzenegger's boyhood home in the village of Thal.

"I should be against Schwarzenegger since the Republican party is too conservative under (President) Bush — but he's an Austrian," said Guenter Riedmueller, a 30-year-old physician attending the party. "He stayed connected with his roots."

The mood was upbeat as house music played in the smoky bar, which was decorated with "Join Arnold" campaign flyers and balloons — red, white and blue, of course.

The party was financed by the conservative and business friendly Austrian People's Party (search) and by local companies.

Among the partygoers were Alfred Gerstl, an 80-year-old often described as Schwarzenegger's mentor.

"I hope he wins," said Gerstl, the descendent of a Jewish family in Graz who helped shape the young bodybuilder's early thinking.

"I taught him not to discriminate against people with other ideologies," he said. "I'm sure he would implement his economic ideas and be able to improve social conditions."