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Schwarzenegger backs move for foreign-born as US president

February 24, 2004 13:16 IST

Even as Indian political parties wrestle with the possibility of a foreign-born individual becoming prime minister – something the Indian Constitution does not disapprove of -- California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger set off a media storm over the weekend by supporting the move to amend the United States constitution so that foreign-born Americans like him could run for the presidency.


Austria-born Schwarzenegger expressed his views on NBC's Meet the Press programme, on the sidelines of the governors' conference in Washington, DC.


Before the Hollywood star ran for governor, Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah had proposed a constitutional amendment allowing immigrants to run for US president. The proposal seeks to eliminate the constitutional requirement that US presidents be 'natural-born' citizens, and suggests instead they must have held citizenship for 20 years.


Schwarzenegger became a citizen in September 1983.


When Meet the Press host Tim Russert asked him about Hatch's amendment, Schwarzenegger said:

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


'Look at the kind of contribution people like [Richard Nixon's Secretary of State] Henry Kissinger has made; [Bill Clinton's Secretary of State] Madeleine Albright. There are many, many, people here that have worked within the government and have done an extraordinary job and not have been born in America.'


When Russert pressed him on the issue, asking if he would run if Hatch's amendment was adopted, Schwarzenegger initially laughed it off, saying he would if actor Sylvester Stallone supported him. 


Then stopping short of a denial, Schwarzenegger finally said he 'had no idea' if he would run for president.



US Bureau