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Bush Meets with California Governor-Elect Schwarzenegger - 2003-10-16

President Bush is in California where he has met with that state's new Governor-elect, the actor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

When he came to America 35 years, Mr. Schwarzenegger says he never imagined he would be elected Governor of California and stand before a cheering crowd introducing the president of the United States.

"But then again, California is the place of great dreams. It's a place where dreams come true and a place where your hard work and positive attitude make things happen," he said. "So it is wonderful to be here today to introduce the president. But this state is also facing right now some serious challenges, but after speaking with the president this morning at great length about the problems of California, I can tell you one thing. There is no greater ally that this golden state has in Washington than our president, my dear friend, President George W. Bush."

The governor-elect says he is counting on the president to help California get out of the financial crisis. The crisis helped propel him to power in an unprecedented recall election.

Mr. Bush and Mr. Schwarzenegger met for about 30 minutes at a hotel before riding together in the president's limousine to an economic forum here in the city of San Bernardino.

Standing with the former body builder in front of a giant American flag, President Bush joked that some people accuse the two men of not being able to speak the language - Mr. Schwarzenegger for his accent, Mr. Bush for his occasional verbal stumbles.

White House officials say the two men discussed education and the economy, though no formal requests were made for additional federal assistance as Mr. Schwarzenegger has not yet been sworn-in.

President Bush says he is confident about the future of the U.S. economy and says he has the responsibility to govern wisely from Washington while Mr. Schwarzenegger will have the responsibility to set good policy in the Californian capital, Sacramento.

"Arnold Schwarzenegger is going to be a fine and strong leader for California. I'm proud to call him friend," the president said.

Republicans hope Mr. Schwarzenegger's popularity will boost the president's chances of winning California in next year's presidential election. The traditionally-Democratic state holds 55 of the 270 electoral votes needed for victory.

The president has already raised more than $80 million for that campaign and added another nearly two million dollars during his two-day stop in California. He is on the way to a tour of Asia that includes stops in Japan, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, and Australia.