National political media are starting to probe the issue of a possible presidential candidate’s constitutional qualifications.
The target this time is junior U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas.
Let’s flash back to 2008 when another candidate came under amazing scrutiny. He was then-junior U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, Democrat of Illinois. Some folks on the right said he couldn’t run for president because, they alleged, he was born in Kenya, homeland of his late father. Obama’s late mother, however, was an American citizen. Sen. Obama had said all along he was born in Hawaii, the 50th state of the U.S., in August 1961. That wasn’t good enough for the critics, who kept harping on his birth.
Eventually, Obama settled it by producing his birth certificate. He was re-elected in November 2012 and the yammering — save for a few crackpots on the far right — has stopped.
Now we have Cruz. The senator indeed was born in Canada. His father is Cuban. His mother is American. Cruz acknowledges he was born north of our border. And that has some folks questioning whether Cruz — who might run for president in 2016 — is qualified under the Constitution.
Article II stipulates that only a “natural born citizen or a “citizen of the United States … shall be eligible for the office of president.” Scholars have interpreted that to mean that Cruz could serve as president, given that his constitutional qualifications were earned at birth by virtue of his mother’s citizenship.
I tend to believe Cruz is qualified under the Constitution to serve as president, which means Obama would have been qualified to serve as well — had he been born in a foreign country, which he wasn’t.
Let’s wait to see how this Cruz story plays out. My bet, as I’ve noted already, is that the left won’t make Cruz’s birthplace nearly the issue that those on the right sought to do with Barack Obama.