Kennedy Okay with President Arnold

03/22/2004 AT 05:40 PM EST

The Kennedy dynasty could live forever: Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy has come out in support of his niece's husband, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, being allowed to run for President -- despite the fact that Kennedy, 72, is a well-known (perhaps the best known) Democrat, while Schwarzenegger, 56, is a Republican.

Then again, Kennedy, speaking Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press" didn't stipulate whether he would cross party lines in support of bloodlines. Currently, the Constitution says only natural-born U.S. citizens are eligible for the country's highest office.

Kennedy expressed his belief in a constitutional amendment that would permit anyone who has been a U.S. citizen for at least 20 years to run for the White House. But, as the Associated Press notes, the senator stopped short of endorsing his Austrian-born nephew-in-law, who became a U.S. citizen in 1983.

"I watched him on your show, and I think you would agree Arnold's able, and he's smart, and he's doing a good job out there," Kennedy told host Tim Russert. "And he is married, he is married to one of the most wonderful people, Maria Shriver. And I'm still hopeful that, as things go along, that Maria will have more and more influence on Arnold. That's what I'm keeping my fingers crossed for."

In his own "Meet the Press" interview last year, Schwarzenegger told Russert that he had not given thought to running for President, though he has said in other press sessions since then that the constitutional amendment proposed by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, "sounds really good."

In the '70s and '80s, it was frequently suggested that patriotic entertainer Bob Hope -- who (it was often forgotten) was born in England -- should run for President.

Hope generally responded, "I can't. My wife, Dolores, won't live in a smaller house."

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