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Sep 6, 2004 7:18 pm

Arnold's Blunders

The Internet is alive with stories about the mistakes Arnold made in his speech at the convention. The Associated Press has reported ( that he couldn't possibly have seen Soviet tanks in the streets of Austria as a boy. He was born in 1947. By then he was living in the sector of the country controlled by the British. The Soviets left the area in 1945.

He made another mistake in claiming that he grew up under socialism. Not true. "Between 1945 and 1970, all the nation's chancellors were conservatives -- not Socialists."

So far, so good. But other stories claim he also made an error in referring to the 1968 election debate between Nixon and Humphrey.

See, for instance, this article by Michel Chossudovsky (

"In the 1968 presidential campaign, Hubert Humphrey and Ed Muskie ran against Richard Nixon and Maryland Governor Spiro Agnew. Richard Nixon did not want to repeat his 1960 experience with JFK. He refused to debate his Democratic opponent Hubert Humphrey. Although Humphrey challenged Nixon to a debate, there was no debate between Hubert Humphrey and Richard Nixon in 1968. Arnold Scharzenegger could not have seen it on TV, because it never took place. In fact, there were no presidential debates between 1960 and 1976."

Tucker Carlson on CNN even apologized for Arnold when Larry King noted that Nixon-Humphrey never debated: "Well, I don't think Schwarzenegger even spoke English at the time. So he could be, you know, forgiven for making that mistake it seems to me."

As the editor of HNN I was ready to include Arnold's error in GOTCHA! But then I took a closer look at Arnold's speech. He never said they debated. He said this:

"I finally arrived here in 1968.I had empty pockets, but I was full of dreams. The presidential campaign was in full swing. I remember watching the Nixon and Humphrey presidential race on TV. A friend who spoke German and English, translated for me. I heard Humphrey saying things that sounded like socialism which is what I had just left. But then I heard Nixon speak. He was talking about free enterprise, getting government off your back, lowering taxes, and strengthening the military. Listening to Nixon speak sounded more like a breath of fresh air."

Any fair reading of this paragraph has to be that Arnold got his history right. Humphrey and Nixon were on TV in 1968 and often popped up in the same news show. So could he have seen them on TV talking about their philosophy? Sure.

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