Eunice Kennedy Shriver's Impact On The Governor

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(Sacramento, CA)
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
When his mother-in-law passed away, Governor Schwarzenegger issued a statement. He credited Eunice Kennedy Shriver with putting him on the path to service. That sounds right to Barbara O’Connor.  She’s director of the Institute for the Study of Politics and Media at
Sacramento State University.  She says Shriver was a force of nature who pulled Schwarzenegger in to help with the Special Olympics – and that was the beginning:
“You know, actors are actors and he was starting an acting career and he was a businessman and still doing all kind of business with his bodybuilding. He diverted because of the Kennedy Shriver family.”
O’Connor says Shriver encouraged Schwarzenegger to run for Governor and campaigned for him. O’Connor says despite Schwarzenegger’s Republican views and Shriver’s Democratic ones – they found common ground. And she believes that influence can be found in the Governor’s public policy agenda:
“Clearly, both her father Sarge Shriver and Eunice Shriver were indelible imprints on him, because when he talks about the Special Olympics, when he talks about access to college for first-generation college students, and trade school training and all of the things that he is really passionate about when he speaks, it’s really the Kennedy legacy that he’s talking about.”
With his own mother far away and his father dead, O’Connor says the Shrivers were a lot like parents to the Governor. In his statement, Governor Schwarzenegger called Eunice Kennedy Shriver the “light of our family.”