“There was a lot of flirtation,” a campaign staffer said.“They frequently spent time alone, and Arnold was rarely, if ever, around when they were together.She had a unique banter with [Dowd] and lit up when he was around.

Matthew Dowd, 53, insisted that he and Miss Shriver, a member of the Kennedy political dynasty, were just “good friends” while he worked on the Terminator star’s campaign to be reelected as governor of California.

But the New York Post now claims to have spoken to staffers on Schwarzenegger’s campaign team who said it was clear there were sparks between the pair as long ago as 2006.

They are said to have taken long walks together and spent time alone following meetings.

One member of the campaign team said Schwarzenegger was upset when he found out about the friendship, and pushed Dowd out of his “inner circle”.

The couple had four children of their own, now aged 18 to 25, before separating in 2011.

Maria Shriver has quietly moved on from Arnold Schwarzenegger with ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd.While Shriver split from the former Governator in 2011 after learning he’d fathered a son with their longtime housekeeper, the two have not finalized their divorce and remain good friends.For a time the child and his mother were living in the same home as Shriver, who was apparently unaware of his parentage.A source told the Post: “Maria likes to make it appear that she’s the victim, but she’s not,” a source said.“The [idea] that they started dating recently is ridiculous.” Dowd denied the claim in a Twitter message to the Post, saying: “There was no affair.We were good friends.” Representatives for Shriver, niece to assassinated President John F Kennedy, and Schwarzenegger, who served two terms as governor of California as well as being a major Hollywood star, did not comment.