USA - VOTE 2008

Schwarzenegger throws weight behind McCain

Hollywood star and California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger backed fellow Republican John McCain at a rally in Ohio on Friday, saying the presidential contender is "built like a rock" but that rival Obama is scrawny in both physique and ideology.



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Muscleman Arnold Schwarzenegger called on Barack Obama to beef up his policies -- and his body -- at a high-voltage campaign rally for Republican John McCain Friday.

Schwarzenegger, the former Hollywood action hero who is now the Republican Governor of California, pumped up a crowd of several thousand at a McCain campaign event in Ohio by ridiculing Obama's policies and his slender physique.

The Austrian-born former Mr. Universe has hosted a bodybuilding tournament in Columbus for several years, and opened his address by inviting Obama to participate in the his next event.

"Every year in March I come here to organize the Arnold Classic which is all about building the body and pumping," said Schwarzenegger.

"That's why I want to invite Senator Obama because he needs to do something about those skinny legs. I'm going to make him do some squats.

"And then we're going to make him do some biceps curls to beef up those scrawny little arms. But if he could only do something about putting some meat on his ideas. Senator McCain on the other hand is built like a rock. His character and his views are solid."

McCain and Schwarzenegger rolled into the Nationwide Arena Hockey Stadium together on the Republican candidate's "Straight Talk Express", the campaign bus that has ferried him on a two-day blitz of this battleground state.

While McCain's stump speech received rapturous applause, it was Schwarzenegger who raised the roof.

The star of the "Terminator" blockbusters unloaded a searing attack on Obama's economic policies while painting former Vietnam War prisoner and Navy pilot McCain as a "real-life American hero."

"John McCain's character has been tested as no other presidential candidate in the history of this nation," Schwarzenegger said.

"He has spent five and a half years as a prisoner of war. He has been tested under torture, under temptation, under deprivation, under isolation.

"He has proven what kind of a man he is. John McCain has served his country longer in a POW camp than his opponent has served in the United State Senate.

"I only play an action hero in the movies but John McCain is a real action hero. And when John McCain is elected you will see all kind of action."

Ohio is a must-win state for McCain, 72, who is trailing Obama in a clutch of pivotal battlegrounds won by outgoing President George W. Bush in 2004.

Schwarzenegger took up McCain's campaign theme of painting Obama as a old-school liberal seeking to hit Americans in the pocket with steep tax hikes.

He said Obama's tax proposals policies reminded him of policies in Europe, a continent he left behind to pursue the American dream in California.

"I left Europe four decades ago because socialism has killed opportunities there," Schwarzenegger said. "In recent years Europe has realized it's mistakes ... and Senator Obama says he wants to pursue the same 'spread the wealth' ideas that Europe had decades ago."

Schwarzenegger later said McCain's years in a Vietnamese prison had proven his leadership credentials, dismissing Obama as a mere "man of eloquence."

"Being president is all about leadership," Schwarzenegger said.

"When Americans go into that voting booth on Tuesday I hope they will think about this: If you were in a POW cell, who would you want in that cell with you? Do you want a man of eloquence or a man of proven courage?"

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