Republican front-runner Donald Trump has officially gone into birther territory on Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
“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,” the billionaire told a Washington Post reporter in New Hampshire on Tuesday. “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.”
Cruz’s mother was a U.S. citizen when he was born in Calgary in 1970, but his father had been born in Cuba. Legal scholars say it is likely Cruz would pass the U.S. Constitution’s “natural-born citizen” litmus test if the issue ever landed him in court.
The Texas senator, who was born in Alberta, Canada, also renounced his dual citizenship on May 14, 2014, and released his birth certificate.
Trump’s comments on his closest rival for the Republican presidential nomination came shortly before a huge Monday campaign event in Lowell, Massachusetts.
“I’d hate to see something like that get in his way,” Trump said. “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.”
Cruz responded to Trump on Twitter Tuesday night by linking to an infamous “Happy Days” episode where “Fonzie” jumps over a shark on water skis.
Trump’s concern about a commander in chief’s citizenship is not new. He supported efforts to investigate Obama’s birth certificate given the lack of documentation found in Hawaii, his purported birth location. Trump suggested Obama may have been born in Kenya, and his birth was registered in Hawaii in order for him to take advantage of the benefits of American citizenship.
Others argued that he may have been born in Hawaii, but his father’s citizenship in Kenya gave him that nation’s citizenship anyway.
Dozens of lawsuits were filed, and the candidate, and then president, repeatedly obtained judicial orders to shut down the inquiries, rather than simply providing the evidence.
Eventually, Obama’s White House provided a document it claimed was his official birth certificate from the state of Hawaii, only to be met immediately by accusations that it was forged.
The only official law-enforcement review of Obama’s documentation, done by Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona, concluded that there is probable cause to believe the White House document is a fraud.
His investigators said it appears Hawaiian officials engaged in a systematic effort to hide Obama’s records, and although they said there was a person of interest in the forgery, that person never was identified.