- The Washington Times - Monday, February 23, 2004

California’s Austrian-born governor says foreign-born citizens should be able to run for president and he supports a constitutional amendment to make it happen.

“There’s many, many, many people here that have worked within a government and have done an extraordinary job and not have been born in America,” Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Republican, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” yesterday.

“I think that there are so many people here in this country that are now from overseas, immigrants that are doing such a terrific job with the work, bringing businesses here, and all this. There is no reason why not.”

Mr. Schwarzenegger cited former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger, born in Germany, and Madeleine K. Albright, born in Czechoslovakia, as “great contributors” to the nation.

“Times have changed. I think this is now a much more global economy,” said Mr. Schwarzenegger, who added that President Bush could win California in this fall’s presidential election.

The Austrian bodybuilder moved to America in 1983, becoming a Hollywood star and later a Republican Party activist. He chaired the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports under President George Bush and officially entered politics last year, winning the governorship in California’s recall election.

In his first Sunday-morning news interview since taking office less than 100 days ago, Mr. Schwarzenegger was asked about bills introduced in the House and Senate to lift the restriction on eligibility for the presidency and whether he would run for president.

“Well, if Sly will help me, I mean, of course I will,” he said, referring to fellow actor Sylvester Stallone, whose futuristic movie “Demolition Man” makes reference to a Schwarzenegger presidency.

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican, and Rep. John Conyers Jr., Michigan Democrat, are sponsoring bills that would allow those who have been U.S. citizens for more than 20 years to run for president. Rep. Vic Snyder, Arkansas Democrat, has sponsored a similar House bill increasing the necessary length of citizenship to 35 years.

“This restriction has become an anachronism that is decidedly un-American,” Mr. Hatch said in announcing the bill.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Hatch told the Salt Lake Tribune the legislation was not written as a means to draft Mr. Schwarzenegger.

For now, Mr. Schwarzenegger said yesterday, he is focused on leading the nation’s most populous state.

“There’s a lot of work ahead of me,” he said, citing California’s financial troubles and immigration, unemployment and environmental problems.

Mr. Schwarzenegger said he is counting on the federal government to give California a financial boost, which he predicts will help Mr. Bush win the state this fall.

“If the federal government does great things for California this year, I think there’s no two ways about it: President Bush can have California and he can be elected. I’m absolutely convinced of that,” he said.

Mr. Schwarzenegger is in Washington for the annual National Governors Association meeting to discuss education, health care and transportation.

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