Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) defended his eligibility to be president, saying Donald Trump and other Republicans are raising questions about his birth only because he is becoming a serious threat in early primary states.
Cruz was born in Canada, but his mother was born in Delaware. Legal experts largely agree that Cruz meets the Constitution's natural-born citizenship requirement, because he was born to an American mother and had her citizenship at birth. But the matter has not been tested in courts.
"The substance of the issue is clear and straightforward. As a legal matter, the Constitution and federal law are clear that the child of a U.S. citizen born abroad is a natural-born citizen," Cruz said in an interview on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday. "Three weeks ago, almost every Republican candidate was attacking Donald Trump. Today, almost every Republican candidate is attacking me. That kind of suggests maybe something has changed in the race."
Cruz said his mother had not voted in a Canadian election because she was a U.S. citizen, despite media reports that her name appeared on a Canadian government document listing Canadians eligible to vote in 1974. Cruz also became a Canadian citizen because he was born in the country. After the Dallas Morning News revealed Cruz's dual citizenship in 2013, he renounced his Canadian citizenship.
"The law is simple and straightforward," Cruz reiterated, citing other Republican presidential candidates who were born outside the United States but were considered natural-born citizens: John McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone, Barry Goldwater was born in Arizona when it was still a territory, and George Romney was born in Mexico to American parents. (McCain has said that Cruz's eligibility is an issue that "ought to be looked at.")
Trump continued to maintain in interviews on Sunday morning that Cruz's eligibility remains "a question mark," one that could lead to lawsuits from the Democrats. Trump mentioned Laurence H. Tribe, Cruz's former constitutional law professor at Harvard Law School, and said Tribe has called Cruz's eligibility a "real question mark."
Tribe said in an interview with ABC News last week that he interprets a "natural-born citizen" as meaning anyone who is a U.S. citizen at birth and does not have to be naturalized. But Tribe said the issue is not yet "settled law" and has not been taken up by the Supreme Court.
"Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd pressed Trump: "But do you have a question mark?"
"Let me tell you: From Ted's standpoint and from the party's standpoint, he has to solve this problem, because the Democrats will sue him if he's the nominee," Trump said. "If Ted is the nominee, he will be sued by the Democrats."
He said he wants the Supreme Court to rule on the matter.
In an interview on "Fox News Sunday," Trump rejected claims that he was "trolling" Cruz.
"He should take it very seriously. You know what? I think I'm going to win. I don't want to beat him in this way," the business magnate said. "I'm just saying, in my opinion, and you already seen it — the Democrats are going to bring a lawsuit. If it's [the nominee is] Ted, the Democrats are going to bring a lawsuit. He's got to have this thing worked out."