Schwarzenegger: Let foreign-born seek White House
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Schwarzenegger: Let foreign-born seek White House

He says longtime citizens should get to run for president

CNN |February 22, 2004

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Arnold Schwarzenegger, making his Sunday talk show debut as governor, said that he and other foreign-born citizens should be eligible to run for the White House and that President Bush can carry California in November if he does more to help the state.

The Austrian-born former bodybuilder, in the capital for his first meeting with fellow governors, said he has not thought about running for president. The Constitution says only natural-born U.S. citizens are eligible for the country's highest office.

The Republican governor said anyone who has been a U.S. citizen for at least 20 years -- as he has -- should "absolutely" be able to seek the presidency. A constitutional amendment proposed by Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, would make that possible.

"There are so many people in this country that are now from overseas, that are immigrants, that are doing such a terrific job with their work, bringing businesses here, that there's no reason why not," said Schwarzenegger, who became a U.S. citizen in 1983.

"Look at the kind of contribution that people like Henry Kissinger have made, Madeleine Albright," he said, referring to two former secretaries of state who were born in Europe.

Schwarzenegger said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that he has been too busy with California's problems to contemplate a future run for the White House. "I have no idea, I haven't thought about that at all," he said.

Schwarzenegger reaffirmed his opposition to the gay marriages that are taking place in San Francisco. He said Mayor Gavin Newsom's refusal to obey the state's law against same-sex marriages could set a bad precedent. ( Full story )

Schwarzenegger, who was sworn in November 17 after winning a special election to replace recalled Democratic Gov. Gray Davis, is making his first visit to Washington since taking office.

He is attending the winter meeting of the National Governors Association. State leaders were to meet with Bush at the White House on Monday.

Schwarzenegger campaigned during last year's recall election on a pledge to be "the Collectinator" -- a play on his role in the "Terminator" movies -- and get more money for California from the federal government. Bush's budget, however, did little to help the state.

Schwarzenegger said he did not feel let down by the president and said Bush can win California in November -- if he does more to help the state financially. Bush lost California by 1.3 million votes to Democrat Al Gore in 2000.

"I think it is totally directly related to how much he will do for our state, there's no two ways about it," Schwarzenegger said. "Because Californian people are like a mirror, you know that what you do for them they will do back for you," Schwarzenegger said.

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

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911:  The Road to Tyranny