Yep. Only this time it’s not Rick Perry making insinuations about Barack Obama.
For those who came in late: The United States Constitution requires US presidents to be “natural born” citizens of the US. Unlike the Hawaiian-born Obama, Ted Cruz, one of the leading Republican candidates for president, was not born in the United States. He was born in Canada to a mother who was a US citizen. Under US law, this made him a US citizen as well as a Canadian citizen. He renounced his Canadian citizenship in 2013.
Now legal scholars are almost unanimous that by virtue of being an American citizen at birth, Ted Cruz is eligible to serve as president. (Whether he ought to be president is a whole other matter.) By the same standard, of course, even if Obama had been born in Kenya (or Paraguay or Mongolia) to an American mother, he would have been no less eligible.
You may also recall that Trump has been one of the leading birthers when it comes to Obama, even sending a crack team of investigators to Hawaii to determine his true origins. It’s been nearly five years now, and having heard nothing otherwise, I can only assume they are onto something really big, and will return from Hawaii to reveal the shocking truth any day now.
To his credit, Cruz has never questioned Obama’s legal right to serve as president. But he was pleased to appoint as one of his campaign’s co-chairmen someone who has– Congressman Steve “Cantaloupes” King of Iowa.
Dana Milbank of The Washington Post writes:
King raised questions about President Obama’s birth certificate, voiced doubts that Obama had been born in the United States, floated the idea that Obama’s birth announcement in Hawaiian newspapers may have been placed “by telegram from Kenya,” and alleged that Obama “was not raised with an American experience.”
So we’re entitled to savor some schadenfreude now as Cruz himself gets caught in the birther web. Donald Trump’s questioning of Cruz’s status as a natural-born American and, therefore, his eligibility to be president is rough justice. Cruz, like Trump, has stoked the fires of resentment and xenophobia, so it’s entirely fitting that he gets burned.
You do have to admire Trump’s rather sinister skill in putting ideas “out there” without fully endorsing them. For instance he doesn’t directly question Cruz’s eligibility. Instead:
“Republicans are going to have to ask themselves the question: ‘Do we want a candidate who could be tied up in court for two years?’ That’d be a big problem,” Trump said when asked about the topic. “It’d be a very precarious one for Republicans because he’d be running and the courts may take a long time to make a decision. You don’t want to be running and have that kind of thing over your head.”
Trump added: “I’d hate to see something like that get in his way. But a lot of people are talking about it and I know that even some states are looking at it very strongly, the fact that he was born in Canada and he has had a double passport.”
In other words: “Just sayin’.”
Trump’s mastery of this sort of thing also emerged when photos appeared of another Republican candidate, Marco Rubio, wearing fancy boots.
Donald Trump joined the media circus over Marco Rubio’s trendy, high-heeled boots on Thursday, telling Boston radio host Howie Carr, “you won’t see me wearing them.”
“I don’t know what to think of those boots,” he added.
“It helps to be tall,” Trump mused. “I don’t know, they’re big heels. They’re big heels. I mean, those heels were really up there. But you know, it’s almost like it doesn’t matter too much. Probably, he would have been better off not going that route.”
“I noticed he’s taken a lot of hits,” Trump continued. “I just hope it works out fine for him.”
But you can be sure Rubio will never wear those boots in public again.
Update: Fun fact: According to one poll, only 29 percent of Republican voters believe Obama was born in the US (which he was) while 40 percent believe Cruz was born in the US (which he wasn’t).