Lawmaker Wants OK on Foreign-Born Presidents

Schwarzenegger for president in 2008?

No, he's not eligible. Born in Austria (search), he's barred by the Constitution. But that would change under an amendment introduced Wednesday by a fellow California Republican.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher's proposal would allow anyone who's been a U.S. citizen for 20 years to run for the nation's highest office. That would include Arnold Schwarzenegger (search) — bodybuilder, movie star and now governor of California.

Schwarzenegger, who became a citizen in 1983, has said he supports amending the Constitution so foreign-born citizensher he might want to run, saying he's focused on governing California.

Rohrabacher said in an interview that Schwarzenegger was doing a great job as governor, but his real aim was to open up the presidential process. "We've got some talented people who might be able to help our country and provide some much-needed leadership, and there's no reason if they've been a citizen for over 20 years to exclude them," he said.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (search), R-Utah, has introduced similar legislation in the Senate.

In remarks prepared for the House floor, he suggested he really wanted to help a California congressman, and a Democrat at that.

"This is no ploy. I honestly believe that Tom Lantos should be able to seek the highest office in the land, just like any other elected official," he said.

Lantos, 76 and born in Hungary, said he saw no need to amend the Constitution.

"However, if the Austro-Hungarian Empire is re-established in the United States, I will invite Arnold Schwarzenegger to be my lieutenant," he said.

Constitutional amendments require passage by two-thirds of both the House and the Senate and then approval by three-fourths of the states.