Ted Cruz and Donald Trump went at each other during the Republican presidential debate on Thursday night, and one issue that came up was whether Cruz being born in Canada would make him ineligible to be president.
Trump has harped on the subject a lot lately, and the debate moderator asked Cruz what he thought.
“You know, back in September my friend Donald said that he had his lawyers look at this from every which way. And there was no issue there. There was nothing there to this birther issue. Now, since September, the Constitution hasn’t changed. But, the poll numbers have. And I recognize that Donald is dismayed that his poll numbers are falling in Iowa,” Cruz said.
“But the facts and the law here are really quite clear.Under longstanding U.S. law, the child of a U.S. citizen born abroad is a natural born citizen. If a soldier has a child abroad that child is a natural born citizen. That’s why John McCain, even though he was born in Panama, was eligible to run for president. If an American missionary has a child abroad that child is a natural born citizen. That’s why George Romney, Mitt’s dad, was eligible to run for president even though he was born in Mexico.”
Cruz added that the legal issue is actually “quite straightforward.”
“But I would note that the birther theories, that Donald has been relying on, some of the more extreme ones insist that you must not only be born on U.S. soil, but have two parents born on U.S. soil,” he said. “Under that theory, not only would I be disqualified, Marco Rubio would be disqualified, Bobby Jindal would be disqualified, an interestingly enough, Donald J. Trump would be disqualified. Because Donald’s mother was born in Scotland. She was naturalized. Now Donald, on the issue of citizenship Donald, I’m not going to use your mother’s birth against you.”
“Because it wouldn’t work,” Trump responded.
“You are an American, as is everyone on this stage,” Cruz said. “I suggest we focus on who is best prepared to be commander in chief. Because that’s the most important question facing the country.”
Trump was given an opportunity for a rebuttal, and started out with the poll numbers.
“NBC and Wall Street Journal just came out with a poll. Headline, ‘Trump way up, Cruz going down,'” Trump said, prompting the audience to boo him.
“And in Iowa, as you know Ted, in the last three polls, I am beating you. So you shouldn’t misrepresent how well you’re doing with the polls. You don’t have to say that. In fact, I was all for you until you started saying it.”
The most interesting part came next, though. Trump said that if he were to win the nomination and choose Cruz as his running mate–which seems the most likely scenario at the moment–that the Democrats would file a lawsuit, which Trump hinted would mean he’d choose someone else for the vice president position.
“I already know the Democrats are going to be bringing a suit,” he said. “You have a big lawsuit over your head while you’re running. And if you become the nominee, who the hell knows if you can even serve in office?”
Cruz was able to respond, and hinted that he still believes he’ll win the nomination–and if he does, he’ll consider Trump as his vice president candidate.
“Well, listen. I have spent my entire life defending the U.S. Constitution before the U.S. Supreme Court. And I’ll tell you, I’m not going to be taking legal advice from Donald Trump. The chances of any litigation proceeding or succeeding on this are zero,” he said.
“And I’ll tell you what Donald. You very kindly just a moment ago offered me the VP slot. I’ll tell you what, if this all works out I am happy to consider you as VP and if you happen to be right you could get the top job at the end of the day.”