Donald Trump at Pottawattamie County GOP   Dinner on 5/15/15.Photo credit: Dave Davidson - Prezography.com
Donald Trump at Pottawattamie County GOP Dinner on 5/15/15.
Photo credit: Dave Davidson – Prezography.com

The question of whether Ted Cruz is constitutionally eligible to be President is a hot topic. Cruz was born in Canada to an American mother. Many question whether that makes him eligible under the Constitution’s requirement that the President be “a natural born citizen.”  The Washington Post has hosted two separate editorials over the past week on the question with one by Jonathan Adler arguing that Cruz is eligible and the Natural Born Citizen clause in Article II of the Constitution means that only someone who is born a citizen can be President. On the other hand, Professor Mary Brigid McManamon contends that while Ted Cruz was “naturalized at birth,”  and that “national born citizen” was a legal term in the eighteenth century that referred only to those born in the country.

It’s a debate that will continue, whether anyone wants it to or not. Beyond the merits of the debate is the question of how this will affect Cruz’s long-term viability as a candidate. There are sincere people who believe in strictly following the Constitution (and would generally be sympathetic to Ted Cruz) but interpret the Constitution as making Cruz ineligible and therefore will not support him.

However, what’s not under dispute is that we’re talking about issue because of Donald Trump. Trump has been dropping hints about this issue and the media has picked it up. He has said, “Ted Cruz has a problem, I mean he has a problem,” in calling into question Cruz’s eligibility. He’s begun to play, ‘Born in the USA’ as a taunt and to get out the message that Cruz wasn’t.

Yet, Trump, only two months ago named Cruz as his potential running mate. The problem with this? The Twelfth Amendment states, “ no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.” So if Trump truly believes Cruz to be constitutionally ineligible to be President, he has no business considering him to be Vice-President.

Trump supporters might argue Trump named Cruz his running mate without knowing about Cruz’s ineligibility then. This would suggest Trump spoke out of ignorance rather than dishonesty. However,  Trump commented on the eligibility issue back in March , eight months before he suggested making Cruz Vice-President.

This inconsistency should lead to Trump being asked some tough questions such as, “Why did you suggest Ted Cruz as your running mate when you stated his eligibility is questionable?” “Given you have questioned Ted Cruz’s eligibility will you rule out choosing him as your running mate? If not, why should voters rule him out as a Presidential candidate?” “Were you aware the qualifications for President and Vice-President are the same?”

The answers would be entertaining, which is all you can say about any answer from Donald Trump. While legal scholars can debate whether the circumstances of Ted Cruz’s birth disqualify him from the presidency, the dishonest and cavalier way Trump has addressed this issue should disqualify him from consideration to be the Republican nominee by any serious person.

Disclosure: Adam Graham has endorsed Mike Huckabee for President and is author of the ebook, Road to Victory: A Conservative’s Case for Mike Huckabee and is host of the Truth and Hope Report Podcast which is currently airing a series, “Our Man Huck.”

4 comments
  1. I posted a comment here yesterday, but it never showed up. So, I’ll try again.

    Trump may be out of line, but I think Cruz’s dishonesty is even worse. Only a few years ago, when first running for the U.S. Senate, he was asked in an interview what his definition of a natural-born citizen was. His response? Two citizen parents and born on the soil. He also said that Obama was ineligible. So now he’s pretending that he never said that? I posted a snippet of that interview yesterday. If you need me to, I can dig that up and post it again.

    Also, a couple of years ago, Cruz claimed that he first learned he had Canadian citizenship by reading it in the “Dallas Morning News.” This from someone who graduated at the top of his Harvard Law class too. How gullible does he think people are?

    Frankly, I don’t think any politicians are that honest, but Cruz’s deceitfulness about the natural-born citizenship issue is plain shocking to me. Knowing what he said just a few years ago about the matter, I don’t understand why anybody would ever trust him.

    1. I researched your quote. You don’t need to repost it. It’s not credible that he ever said that a Natural Born Citizen must be born of two citizens and the soil. The quote shows up on Google, however, it’s in the comments of articles related to Ted Cruz. When I traced it back to its source, it appears to originate from a blogger named JB Williams who claims to have signed affidavit from someone (he won’t say who) who overheard Ted Cruz speaking to a Republican leader (again, this is not specified who). That’s not credible. That’s political gossip from anonymous sources.

      I’m not a Ted Cruz fan. I think Ted Cruz was given the public trust of being a United States Senator and decided to use that trust for the sole purpose of laying a groundwork for a Presidential campaign and has chosen to not fulfill his duty to the people of Texas. However, believing that, I also can’t believe Cruz would make such a statement before witnesses, knowing it would come back to bite him as he wanted to be President. Cruz is many things, but he’s not a fool.

  2. Hi Adam,

    Thanks for the info. You said that you researched my quote, but you did not explain why my original comment was never published in the first place. Why didn’t you just approve my comment and then give your conclusion that the quote wasn’t valid? It’s a head-scratching experience when you submit a comment to a Web site and it never shows up. It makes you think, “Either there was a glitch in the system or they’re suppressing my comment.”

    Anyway, I don’t completely agree with your conclusion about the quote. It would be more accurate to say that it has not been proved. But that’s not the same thing as saying that it has been clearly demonstrated to be false. So, it’s still a question mark.

    Nevertheless, did you read what Cruz’s former professor Laurence Tribe wrote about Cruz recently? He said that Cruz held very strict, originalist views when he was his student. He also said that Cruz’s views were very consistent back then, but now he accuses Cruz of relaxing his views recently for political ambition. That’s a pretty serious accusation. So, in light of what Tribe wrote, I don’t find it at all hard to believe that Cruz would have given such a strict definition of a natural-born citizen in the past, because it is consistent with a strict originalist position. Do you honestly think a strict originalist would have said that it’s OK for a natural-born citizen to be born on foreign soil?

    Two other points:

    1) Tribe says that the definition of a natural-born citizen has never been settled. And Tribe is an expert on this stuff. So, by claiming that the matter has been settled, Cruz is either a) woefully misinformed or b) dishonest. I find it hard to believe that Tribe, the professor and scholar, would be wrong about this.

    2) According to Tribe, the understanding in the late 18th century was that you had to be born on U.S. soil to be a natural-born citizen. Having two citizen parents wouldn’t have been enough. This confirms that if Cruz was indeed a strict originalist back when he was a student, as Tribe claims, then it is extremely likely that he would have held such a definition of natural-born citizen.

    And do you really believe that Cruz only found out he was a Canadian citizen a couple of years ago by reading the newspaper? (This claim of his can be verified by reading news articles from 2013.) You said you didn’t think that Cruz would be so stupid as to give such a definition of natural-born citizen in an interview, but claiming that–for his whole life–he didn’t know he was a Canadian citizen is even stupider. I mean, my own brother was born in Canada, and even when I was a kid I knew that he was a dual citizen, even though there are no lawyers in my family. If I knew that, then how could Cruz, the legal guru, not have known? And if he really was that uninformed, how can he be considered Presidential material?

    One final point: If there’s any doubt whatsoever about a candidate’s eligibility, then it’s best to be safe and pick someone who you know is 100% eligible. Why would anyone ever vote for Cruz, Rubio, or (formerly) Jindal when we have a dozen other candidates who everybody knows are eligible?

    1. I received an email saying your co comment was pending but I found it the Trash box when I got to the site and while I contribute, this isn’t my site, so don’t know really handle comment moderation.

      The natural born citizen debate hasn’t been settled and I don’t expect it to be. However, given Obama’s presidency, it’s essentially a dead letter. Courts won’t even touch these cases with a ten foot pole as standing is an issue. You’d need probably a campaign to sew and if Donald Trump thinks this is a problem, he should be a leader and file that lawsuit.

      As a voter, I’ll give benefit of the doubt to any candidate who was born here or has one U.S. Citizen as a parent and are therefore qualified to be citizens at birth. I do worry that with the strength of birtherism (while small) would make Ted Cruz’s chances of victory lesser in the general election

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