Donald Trump took the “birther” lunacy to extremes against President Barack Obama, who in 2011 released his long-form birth certificate from Hawaii to prove that he wasn’t born in Kenya and that he was constitutionally qualified for the nation’s highest office.
Now, Trump is lobbing this absurdity against Republican rival Ted Cruz, telling the Washington Post on Tuesday that someone might challenge Cruz’s legitimacy to be president because he was born in Canada.
“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.
Cruz, the senator from Texas, has many flaws as a candidate. This isn’t one of them.
Here are the basics: Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta, while his father worked in the oil business. His father was born in Cuba and didn’t become a U.S. citizen until 2005. But his mother was born in Delaware and was a citizen from birth. Cruz, who moved to Texas when he was 4, was a dual citizen of the U.S. and Canada but renounced his Canadian citizenship in 2014 in the run-up to his presidential campaign.
The Constitution requires the president to be a “natural-born citizen.” Experts generally agree that children who happen to be born abroad to parents who are U.S. citizens qualify. It’s the same reason that Sen. John McCain, who was born at a military hospital in the Panama Canal zone, was qualified to be the Republican nominee in 2008.
In September, Trump dismissed this as an issue, saying that “Ted is in fine shape.” Cruz, however, has jumped ahead of Trump in the polls for the Feb. 1 Iowa caucus, the first contest for the GOP nomination.
Cruz had an appropriately snarky reply. He posted on Twitter a video of the “Happy Days” episode where Fonzie on water skis “jumped the shark” – what has become the turn of phrase for TV shows or campaigns that resort to outrageous gimmicks to stay alive.
Is there anything Trump won’t do or say to win? Clearly not.