Ventura comes off the grid firing at Trump, Schwarzenegger and U.S. foreign policy
MINNEAPOLIS -- Former Gov. Jesse Ventura emphasized peace and understanding in a wide-ranging, sometimes off-color, speech Friday in Minneapolis. In between jokes, Ventura acknowledged what would have gotten him in hot water while he was governor...
MINNEAPOLIS -- Former Gov. Jesse Ventura emphasized peace and understanding in a wide-ranging, sometimes off-color, speech Friday in Minneapolis.
In between jokes, Ventura acknowledged what would have gotten him in hot water while he was governor of Minnesota from 1999 to 2003.
Although, the commentator and former wrestler said no issue is more important to him now than peace.
“In 2016, I personally am going to be a one-issue voter,” said Ventura, - who routinely suggests he might run for president himself. “I will vote for the candidate who gets us out of war in the Middle East once and for all.”
As the keynote speaker for the Minneapolis convention of Sister Cities International, Ventura talked up his experience living “off the grid” in Mexico.
“I love the life down there because it broadens me in the fact that, guess what, I’m the minority,” Ventura said. “It’s something that all white people should take part in at some point, being a minority, because it gives you a new perspective on the world around you.”
Living in Mexico, Ventura said, had made him a “bigger” and “more worldly” person. He praised Sister Cities International for bringing people from different countries together - and got in a jab at a current presidential candidate under fire lately for comments about Mexicans.
“We need relationships where we get honest opinions about people throughout the world, not Donald Trump opinions,” Ventura said.
Speaking without notes, Ventura - who corrected his introduction as an American “politician” to an American “statesman” - touched on Fidel Castro, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Trump, as well as gender, ethnicity and his refusal to get a cellphone.
“If I’d did that as governor, I’d be in big trouble,” Ventura said after making a profane quip about an “old Polish saying.” “You’re only allowed to make jokes about your own nationality.”
Defending open immigration, Ventura said businesses “should have the freedom to hire who you want,” whether they’re “a citizen of the country or not.” And he promoted the skills of Mexicans at certain types of manual labor.
“Having lived in Mexico now for the length of time I have, if it comes to agriculture, if it comes to roofing, if it comes to any type of cement work, I’m going to hire as many Mexicans as I can put my hands on,” Ventura said. “When it comes to cement work, they’re not workers, they’re artists.”
Asked what he’d do if he were governor of Minnesota again today, Ventura immediately cited a favorite issue: “I’d bring back the flat rate $99 for license plates.” He criticized the replacement of the flat rate with the current yearly fee based on a car’s value.
The former governor got conspiratorial when talking about his anti-war position.
“I’m very vehement in my anti-war position. I realize that puts my life in danger,” Ventura said. “Everybody that stands for peace … ends up dying violently.” He went on to cite John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.
Ventura also noted that Saturday is his 40th wedding anniversary and criticized his former “Predator” co-star Arnold Schwarzenegger for cheating on his then-wife Maria Shriver.
“I’ve had no contact with him ever since what he did to Maria,” Ventura said.
The Sister Cities International crowd at the Hyatt Regency hotel in downtown Minneapolis applauded Ventura multiple times, and dozens of audience members swarmed the former governor after his speech, seeking pictures with him and asking questions.
“When I saw him on the program, I thought it was just a joke,” said Sister Cities International attendee Franklin Thompson of Lexington, Ky. “But he’s serious.”