California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger says the three leading Republican presidential candidates should stick to the political center and avoid being pushed too far to the right to win the party's nomination.
Sen. John McCain of Arizona, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will stand a better chance in the 2008 general election as moderates, Schwarzenegger said Saturday, The Columbus Dispatch reported. He visited Columbus for the 19th annual Arnold Sports Festival, a three-day event that features 39 events, including 14 Olympic sports.
"I'm very proud that the Republican Party has three candidates that some conservatives feel like they are not conservative enough, because that feels like they have a good chance of winning the overall election," said Schwarzenegger, a moderate Republican himself. "The people in America are in the center, they're not extremists."
Schwarzenegger's push to move California's presidential primary to Feb. 5 from June could give the state much greater influence in the 2008 presidential sweepstakes.
When asked if he'd like to see the U.S. Constitution amended to allow foreign-born citizens to run for president, the Austrian-born governor joked, "It's part of comprehensive immigration reform."
Schwarzenegger said he hasn't considered what he'll do after term limits force him to leave office in 2010, but he's not inspired by returning to acting, the AP says.
Schwarzenegger's visit to Columbus also gave him a chance to meet Sabah Mahdi, a 49-year-old Iraqi bodybuilder who has dreamed of meeting Schwarzenegger for 33 years. Difficulty getting a passport and other problems have prevented Mahdi from leaving his war-torn country for previous festivals.