Billionaire businessman Donald Trump – who’s recently made moves toward a 2016 White House run – reacted swiftly to Sen. Ted Cruz’s announced presidential campaign, contending the fiery Texan still has a substantial obstacle to overcome: his birthplace.
“Well, he’s got, you know, a hurdle that nobody else seems to have at this moment,” Trump said in an interview with MyFoxNY, referring to Cruz’s Canadian place of birth.
“It’s a hurdle and somebody could certainly look at it very seriously. He was born in Canada … if you know … and when we all studied our history lessons … you’re supposed to be born in this country. So I just don’t know how the courts would rule on it. But it’s an additional hurdle that he has that no one else seems to have.”
Some top-ranked legal minds insist Cruz is eligible. But the matter is likely to plague at least the early days of his campaign.
Cruz was born in 1970 in Alberta, where his Cuban-born father was working for an oil company. Cruz’s birth certificate indicates his mother was born in Delaware, making her an American citizen. Cruz was automatically registered as a Canadian citizen but also an American citizen. His family moved back to the United States when he was 4 years old.
The matter of his birth rose to national prominence a few years ago after the Dallas Morning News, looking at the possibility of Cruz’s potential run for the presidency, discovered his dual citizenship and raised questions. Cruz soon after renounced his Canadian citizenship, saying that having lived in the U.S. since age 4, he’s never considered himself anything but an American.
On May 14, 2014, Cruz’s dual citizenship was formally put to rest.
“This is to certify that the person named above has formally renounced Canadian citizenship and pursuant to the Citizenship Act will cease to be a citizen,” his Canadian Renunciation Letter stated.
Cruz isn’t the only presidential candidate to have his eligibility questioned regarding birthplace. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who was born in the Panama Canal Zone while his father served in the military, fought off a brief court challenge to his eligibility during his 2008 campaign. President Obama’s eligibility has been contested since his 2008 campaign for the White House by many, including Trump, with an ongoing investigation by Sheriff Joe Arpaio already finding Obama presented to the public a fraudulent birth certificate.
Section One, Article Two of the Constitution states “no person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of president.” But the document doesn’t define “natural born citizen,” and the Supreme Court has never clarified it.
“The origins of the Natural Born Citizenship Clause date back to a letter John Jay (who later authored several of the Federalist Papers and served as our first chief justice) wrote to George Washington, then president of the Constitutional Convention, on July 25, 1787,” wrote Sarah Helene Duggin, professor of law and director of the Law and Public Policy Program at Columbus School of Law at Catholic University of America, in a 2013 post for the National Constitution Center.
She went on: “At the time … framers worried about ‘ambitious foreigners who might otherwise be intriguing for the office.’ … [So] the natural-born citizenship language appeared in the draft Constitution the Committee of Eleven presented to the Convention. There is no record of any debate on the clause.”
Still, Duggin wrote, “it is reasonable to conclude that the drafters believed that foreign-born children of American parents who acquired citizenship at birth could and should be deemed natural born citizens.”
That’s the consensus of most modern-day legal analysts, wrote Ben Brody of Bloomberg in a March 23 piece titled “Yes, Canadian-Born Ted Cruz May Run for President.”
His view: “For pretty much as long as Ted Cruz has eyed the presidency, naysayers have pointed out that his 1970 birth in Canada means he might not be eligible for the office. … But overwhelming agreement among legal experts says Cruz fits the bill.”
Neal Katyal, former acting solicitor general in the Obama administration, agreed Cruz is eligible to seek the presidency. He wrote with Paul Clement, the solicitor general under George W. Bush, “there is no question” Cruz can run.
In the Harvard Law Review earlier this month, the two wrote: “There are plenty of serious issues to debate in the upcoming presidential election cycle. The less time spent dealing with specious objections to candidate eligibility, the better.”
Trump has questioned Cruz’s birth status for years.
In a 2013 interview, ABC’s Jonathan Karl asked Trump if Cruz was eligible to seek the White House, due to his birthplace.
“Perhaps not,” he said.
Trump on Monday evening repeated his opinion on Fox News’ “The Kelly File” with Megyn Kelly.
“I always heard you had to be born in the country” to seek the presidency, he said.
Meanwhile, over at ABC’s “The View” on Monday, shortly after Cruz announced his run for the White House, the hosts declared a desire to see the senator’s birth certificate.
Michelle Collins first said: “I’m a Ted Cruz birther. I want to see the birth certificate.”
And Whoopi Goldberg carried the line of thought further.
“[Cruz] is one of the people that said, well the president, huh, you know, I want to see your birth certificate,” she said, Mediaite reported. “And you’re a mixed gentleman, right? You are mixed. I want to know, are you talking for the Cuban side or the white side? What are you talking for? See now, when we turn it around, it’s not very nice.”
Cruz appeared on Fox News with Sean Hannity to address the issue.
First, he acknowledged all the “political chatter” on social media about his birthplace. And then he said: The law’s clear. He’s a natural born American citizen, legally allowed to seek the presidency.
“I was born in Calgary,” he said. “My mother is an American citizen by birth … [and] by federal law, the child of an American citizen born abroad is a citizen at birth, a natural born citizen, which is what the Constitution requires.”
Cruz then pointed to both McCain and Barry Goldwater as past examples.
“Actually, Barry Goldwater was born in Arizona before Arizona was a state,” he reminded. “As a legal matter, the issue is quite straightforward: If you or I travel abroad and we have a child [who’s] born abroad and we’re American citizens, that child is a natural born citizen.”