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TV Ads Advocate 'Amend for Arnold'

Schwarzenegger backers campaign to change the U.S. Constitution on presidential eligibility.

November 13, 2004|Robert Salladay | Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — Television ads supporting a constitutional amendment that would allow Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and other foreign-born citizens to run for president will begin appearing next week on cable stations across California, a newly formed group based in Silicon Valley announced Friday.

The ads feature Lissa Morgenthaler-Jones, a mutual fund manager from the Bay Area and major donor to Schwarzenegger's campaign, telling viewers: "You cannot choose the land of your birth. You can choose the land you love."

It's the first large-scale effort to generate public support for allowing Schwarzenegger to run for president. The Republican governor, who was born in Austria, has said he would be interested in running if the law allowed him, but Article 2 of the U.S. Constitution requires presidents to be "natural born" citizens. He has not actively pushed the subject, but others have.

"Twelve million people have chosen America. Now America wants to choose them," the TV ads say, referring to the number of naturalized citizens. "Help us amend the Constitution.... Help us amend for Arnold."

Morgenthaler-Jones is helping finance the effort and already has a website -- www.amendfor arnold.com -- supporting Schwarzenegger and others who might qualify. Her group said the ads will run on cable TV in San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Sacramento, Stockton and Los Angeles starting Monday. The size of the ad purchase was unclear.

The group has an uphill job: Public opinion polls show weak support for changing the Constitution to accommodate Schwarzenegger. Congress recently held its first hearing on the subject since the 1870s but did not advance any of the four proposals circulating to amend the Constitution. If Congress did approve the measure, 38 states also would have to ratify it.

Schwarzenegger, who came to the U.S. in 1968 and became a citizen in 1983, has said he thinks immigrants who have lived in the country for a long time should be allowed to run for president. "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," he told NBC.

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