Ted Cruz in New Hampshire this summer (Associated Press photo)

NASHVILLE—Rafael Cruz forcefully defended his Canadian-born son’s Constitutional eligibility to become president during a prayer breakfast over the weekend.

After a wide-ranging speech to the National Federation of Republican Assemblies here, a member of the audience told the ordained pastor that some conservatives worry that Ted Cruz isn’t allowed to run for president since he wasn’t born in the United States.

Rafael Cruz is from Cuba, and he and his wife were working in Calgary in Alberta, Canada in December 1970 when Ted Cruz was born. The senator’s mother, though, was born in Delaware.

[The Daily 202: Rafael Cruz embraces role of attack dog]

“The Naturalization Act of 1790 states quite clearly: a child born of a U.S.-born mother anywhere in the world is a U.S. citizen by birth and therefore a natural-born citizen,” Rafael Cruz said.

Right-wing concern over the issue is palpable enough that Ted Cruz felt compelled to publicly release his birth certificate in 2013.

“He has lived in the U.S. since just after he turned four. He had a U.S. passport from the time he was a teenager,” the 76-year-old Cruz said. “A few years ago he renounced his Canadian citizenship — he didn’t have to do that.”

The elder Cruz also cited a Harvard Law Review article that concluded his son was eligible to run for president, noting that it was written by someone who served in President Obama’s Justice Department. He then noted that the liberal legal scholar Alan Dershowitz thinks so too — the elder Cruz didn’t mention that Dershowitz taught Cruz a first-year criminal law class and wrote him a letter of recommendation to serve as William Rehnquist’s law clerk.

“John McCain was born in Panama,” the older Cruz argued forcefully. “George Romney, Mitt Romney’s father, was born in Mexico and ran for president. Barry Goldwater was born in Arizona when Arizona was a territory. The question is settled!”

Rafael Cruz suggested that the lingering questions, which are mostly being raised by far-right blogs, are really part of an effort to marginalize and diminish his son by the GOP establishment.

“Don’t let yourself be misguided by erroneous information,” he told the crowd of about 100, including many conservative state legislators. “There is no one the establishment is more afraid of than Ted Cruz. If there was any validity to this issue, you’d see 20 or 30 articles written in the newspapers trying to tear him down. … They know they can’t go there.”

Donald Trump, the Republican frontrunner, made headlines during Obama’s first term by embracing birtherism, demanding the president release his birth certificate to prove he was born in the U.S. Trump has previously questioned Cruz’s eligibility to run for president.

For his part, Rafael Cruz has previously made controversial comments about Obama’s own origins.

“We need to send Barack Obama back to Chicago,” he said in a Sept. 2012 speech. “I’d like to send him back to Kenya, back to Indonesia!”

Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Ted Cruz, left, raises his hand with his father Rafael, right, while holding his daughter Caroline during a victory speech Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, in Houston. Cruz defeated Democrat Paul Sadler to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Ted and Rafael Cruz on election night in 2012. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)