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Pros and cons of native presidents

January 17, 2007

Re "Left out in '08," editorial, Jan. 14

Some of us believe we are getting the best now from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger precisely because the presidency is barred to him. Consider the careful way every declared and potential candidate for the 2008 nomination is shaping his or her thinking on every hot-button issue from Iraq to Social Security reform. Rather than bold initiatives and real vision, presidential potentials are counseled to obscure their thoughts. Leave Schwarzenegger and anyone arriving in the United States before 2010 out of any discussion to change the wording of the Constitution. Let Schwarzenegger be totally free to offer Californians all of his energy and talent.

GODFREY HARRIS

Los Angeles

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Being a naturalized citizen like Schwarzenegger, I wholeheartedly support any efforts to amend our Constitution to allow foreign-born citizens of the United States to run for president.

The present situation creates two classes of citizenship -- those born on U.S. soil without their choosing it and those who came to the United States as legal immigrants and then acquired citizenship by choice.

Like you, I supported Schwarzenegger for governor and, like you, I would not necessarily support him as a presidential candidate. I agree that this distinction between naturalized and U.S.-born citizens is outdated and an insult to all foreign-born citizens.

HERMAN PFAUTER

Santa Barbara

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Although I might agree that there are many foreign-born citizens who would probably make good presidents, I still believe that barring non-natives from occupying the Oval Office is a prudent safeguard. That restriction prevents a person with divided loyalties from becoming the leader of this country by putting another country's interests ahead of those of the United States.

I find just the discussion of changing the Constitution to accommodate this one individual offensive. Since when did this country become a banana republic?

ERIC J. BARNARD

New York

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I wonder if the same people who want the Constitution changed so Schwarzenegger can run for president would feel the same way if the person running was from the Middle East and registered as a Democrat.

GUS TORRES

Lancaster

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The United States was founded by men who wanted to create a distinctly American nationality, best reflected in a native-born American with American character, values and roots. The founders wanted only a native-born leader to fill the highest and most powerful government office in the land.

CARL SENNA

Saint John, Canada

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After the exposure of the Gates Foundation's investment strategy, I was beginning to think The Times had some relevance again until I read the absurd editorial advocating changing the Constitution so Schwarzenegger could run for president in 2008. It sounds like a desperate strategy the GOP has dreamed up to counter Sen. Barack Obama's charisma.

LESLIE HOPE

Santa Monica

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