This is a partial transcript from "HANNITY & COLMES", June 10, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.
ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Tens of thousands of mourners waited on long lines outside the United States Capitol today to pay their respects to former President Ronald Reagan (search). After tomorrow's funeral services in the national cathedral, Reagan's casket will be flown back to California one last time for a sunset burial at the Reagan presidential library.
Our first guest often called the former president and the California Governor his personal hero. Joining us from Los Angeles, the current Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Governor, good to have you with us tonight. Thanks for being here.
GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: Thank you very much. It's my pleasure.
COLMES: Do you identify particularly with Ronald Reagan because of your past as an actor? He was an actor, both now governor of California? Is there that level of identification?
SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, there is, but I think that no matter what profession you have, that you're in, no matter if you're a woman or a man, I think he was just idolized by millions and millions of people in America and around the world. So, I think that is one aspect.
But I think he was just so heroic, because of the things that he has accomplish, not only as a governor but as a president.
I mean, if you think about it, when he came into his office in 1981, the country was really in terrible shape, and what he has done within a short period of time, brought the country back, made everyone believe in America again.
And made everyone in -- proud again to be an American, and not only as American but also overseas what he has done was just extraordinary. I mean, the whole reputation, the image of America, was built up again in a very, very short period of time.
As a matter of fact, I remember when I was away in Spain doing "Conan the Barbarian." This was in early '81, and even during that short period of time, I mean, people's opinions about America changed right there. I saw it in front of my very eyes.
COLMES: Do you -- are you modeling your Governorship on his Governorship in any way?
SCHWARZENEGGER: I don't copy President Reagan. I think that he was, you know, he had his style of governing, and I have mine. But he was always a source of inspiration to me.
The important thing is that when he came into office, I mean, he motivated everyone to get involved in public service.
And I'm very fortunate that I have two people that I admire so much. One is my father-in-law, Sergeant Shriver (search), and the other one is President Reagan. Both of them continuously talked about people getting involved in public service, to go and get involved in community service, to get involved just with giving something back to your country and feeling proud about yourself and to feel proud as an American.
And I think all of this had a tremendous impact. He was just -- he was very motivational. Each time that I met him, he was also very inspirational, motivational. I will never forget those times.
COLMES: When was the first time you met Ronald Reagan? What was it like? What happened?
SCHWARZENEGGER: It was in 1984 during the Republican convention in Dallas. Right after he gave his speech, he came down to the party, the big event, and I was there.
And he talked to me for around five minutes, and it was a great conversation. And we talked about America. And he talked about how he, you know, wants to now -- the American ideals, export them all over the world and make sure that, you know, that America is, again, the strong country and also can assist other countries to be strong.
COLMES: Is he...
SCHWARZENEGGER: He just had a tremendous effect. I remember as soon as he came into power, I mean, he was -- the Soviet Union was supposed to be our enemy, started selling American jeans and started dealing on the black market with American movies and videotapes and all those things. It was really -- They wanted to be American too.
COLMES: Is Ronald Reagan the reason you're a Republican?
SCHWARZENEGGER: No. I think that was President Nixon, when he talked about the free market and about, you know, opening up the borders, get government off your back.
I remember in 1968 when I came to this country and it was presidential election, and there was -- you know, when they were campaigning, Humphrey and Nixon. He was very much responsible. The things that I heard from him, his philosophy, and, you know, about the pro business, and strengthening the military and all this. It really impressed me.
I felt like, you know, this is really a different philosophy than from a country I came from, socialism. So I felt, you know, I'm a Republican from that point on.
HANNITY: Governor, welcome back to the program. It's always good to see you. Thanks for being here.
You wrote a very touching piece, I thought, in USA Today, and you quoted about Reagan, quoting a letter he had received from a man, where he said, "You can go live in Turkey, but you can't become Turkish. You can go live in Japan, but you can't become Japanese. You can live in Germany or France, you can't become German or French." But the man who said, "Anyone from any corner of the earth can come to America and be an American."
You said that's you.
SCHWARZENEGGER: That's absolutely right. When I heard that, and when I also read it, I said to myself, you know, he's speaking to me. I mean, I'm one of those foreigners that he's talking about that is coming all the way over from Austria, coming here. And I could identify with that.
I said to myself, yes, I feel like an American. I felt like an American literally from the day I arrived here, I felt like an American, and I could identify much more with the lifestyle here and with the country and with the way they lived, the whole political system, the economic system and everything.
So, I felt very comfortable. I felt like I was coming home when I came to America.
And, of course, it was a great, great thing when President Reagan was the first term in office, in 1983, I became an American citizen. So, it was kind of like this -- had this double effect. I was proud to be an American just because also Ronald Reagan was in office and the great job he did. But also, at the same time, I became an American citizen at that time.
HANNITY: Governor, I see a lot of similarities between you and Ronald Reagan. When he first became Governor of California, the state was facing a financial crisis, as you have now been dealing with since you've been elected Governor.
When he took over and he became president, the country was facing a bit of an identity crisis. There was the malaise factor. We had terrible economic conditions in the country, and the characteristics I see that are similar between you two, you are that perpetual optimist that Reagan was.
SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, I think that I always was an optimist. But I think this was one of the things that was very appealing about President Reagan. That no matter what the problems were, he had -- he was very clear about his, you know, ideals and about everything.
There was a certain amount, a certain clarity there about him, a clarity in his heart, a clarity in his faith, a clarity in his convictions, a clarity in his actions, everything.
So, I just felt that he was so optimistic and so positive and always talked about, you know, America's ready to move on, or when he called America the shining city on the hill or anyone that doesn't believe in the future, get out of the way, step aside. We are ready to move on.
All of those things really motivated people and really made people kind of rally behind him and say, yes, let's go and move on. Let's be behind President Reagan, and let's make some sacrifices, but in turn, turn the country around again and be proud again to have this great nation.
So he really made everything possible. And at the same time, let's think about that. He was, you know, responsible for really, you know, disintegrating communism. I mean, here was an empire, an evil empire that for 70-some years, and he took it out.
And it was all not only because of, you know, the weapons buildup but also because he sold his ideals and he sold his philosophy overseas to the rest of the world and so eventually the pressure was so enormous that they had to kind of get rid of their system.
HANNITY: You know, I love your life story. It really is fascinating, Governor. You went right to the top of the bodybuilding world. You became the No. 1 box office sensation, and against a lot of odds you became the governor of one of the biggest states in America. Pretty darn good country.
Do you think anybody can achieve that much in their life?
SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, you know, there is many people that have achieved incredible things in various different areas, if it isn't business or in politics or in sports or in any other areas, in medicine, in research, and so on.
We have a lot of incredibly talented people in this country, millions, so mine is maybe unique in that an Austrian came over here and accomplished that, but, you know, there's so many incredible heroes out there in this country, that, you know, people that I idolize.
But President Reagan was one of my idols and I think that I got inspired by him, and you know, I will continue on having the kind of positive attitude that he had.
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