Donald Trump returned to his political roots this week by questioning whether one of his foes is even eligible to become president. This time, Trump's target wasn't President Barack Obama; it was Ted Cruz, the Republican runner- up in national polls who may pose the greatest threat to Trump's nomination.
Trump is taking a different approach this time around. Rather than flat-out insist Cruz is disqualified from the presidency, as Trump did in 2011 with the Hawaii-born Obama, the real estate developer is claiming to be concerned that Cruz's Canadian birthplace (which didn't stop him from becoming a U.S. citizen at birth thanks to his American mother) could get his candidacy tied up in courts.
"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 told the Washington Post in an interview published Tuesday afternoon. He continued, “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."
While the courts haven't ruled on the question, legal scholars broadly agree that the qualification for the presidency under the U.S. Constitution—that the candidate be a "a natural born Citizen"—applies to a person born to an American citizen parent regardless of where the birth took place. Cruz was born in Calgary, Canada, to an American mother and Cuban father.
Cruz laughed off Trump's insinuation on Twitter. His spokesman Rick Tyler responded with a one-word answer—"no"—when asked if he'd comment further.
Trump and Cruz clashed earlier when the Texan portrayed himself as tougher on illegal immigration than the New Yorker, who has made immigration a central issue in his campaign. During a speech Tuesday in Claremont, N.H., Trump didn't mention Cruz's by name or allude to his birthplace, but suggested that the first-term senator copied his idea to build a wall on the Southern border.