Schwarzenegger visits troops in Iraq

The Sacramento BeeNovember 17, 2009 

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger visited troops Monday in Iraq at a military camp outside Baghdad for the first time as California governor, signing autographs and recounting his own experience as an Austrian tank driver.

The governor gave a short speech designed to motivate the troops. He delivered cigars, signed autographs and told them he'd return today to work out with them before breakfast.

Schwarzenegger last visited Iraq in 2003, just before he announced his run for governor. His communications director said last week the governor had been looking for the right time to visit the troops and felt it was appropriate to do so after striking a water infrastructure deal with lawmakers and before the next round of budget negotiations.

"I just wanted to let you know how much we in the United States appreciate the work you are doing," Schwarzenegger said Monday, according to video provided by the Multi-National Corps public affairs office in Iraq. "Now, I know you are thinking many times, 'Why am I here? What am I doing?' Maybe you're not making the kind of progress sometimes that you wish you would make here. But don't ever get discouraged."

Schwarzenegger said he has a special appreciation for the military as an immigrant who chose to live in the United States. He then won cheers when he mused that if he weren't an immigrant, "maybe I would be running for president or something like that."

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