U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, put some of his supporters in an awkward position with his entry into the presidential race this week. Cruz, who was born in Canada to an American mother and a Cuban father, is adored by members of the tea party -- groups that include sympathizers who claimed President Barack Obama was ineligible for office either because he was born in Kenya, Indonesia, or his Hawaii birth certificate was fabricated.
Obama, of course, was born in the United States. But now those some of those same “birthers” who said Obama was unqualified to be president say Cruz has the exact same problem, with one saying the Texas Republican is “worse than Obama” in terms of presidential eligibility.
“Cruz is not born in the country, plus he’s born to a non-citizen father, so he’s even worse than Obama because he has three different citizenships and three different allegiances,” said Mario Apuzzo, a New Jersey lawyer who has filed briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court questioning whether Obama was born in the United States. “I like Ted Cruz’s politics. This has nothing to do with his politics. I love his courage and his strength and his commitment to the Constitution. Just because I like his politics doesn’t mean I can give him a break. He’s worse than Obama in terms of his allegiances and his citizenships.”
Cruz renounced his Canadian citizenship last year. On Monday, he announced his campaign for president. His candidacy has reignited debate over who is eligible to be president. The Harvard Law Review said earlier this month that there's no debate: Cruz can run. "While some constitutional issues are truly difficult, with framing-era sources either nonexistent or contradictory, here, the relevant materials clearly indicate that a 'natural born citizen' means a citizen from birth with no need to go through naturalization proceedings," wrote Neal Katyal and Paul Clement.
But Apuzzo said Cruz, who proclaims defending the Constitution as one of his ideals, is damaging his reputation by running for president. Apuzzo said he wouldn’t rule out legal action like the ones he’s taken against Obama.
“He figures, ‘Heck, Obama got away with it. Nobody is going to challenge me, so I’ll skate by,'” Apuzzo said. “It really hurts his credibility. He preaches the Constitution to the supreme. That’s like hypocrisy to the max.”
On the other hand, Tea Party Express Executive Director Taylor Budowich said Cruz is a legitimate candidate because he didn’t have to go through the naturalization process to be a U.S. citizen. “I think it’s a pretty clear legal matter,” Budowich said. “The Naturalization Act of 1790 states that if you’re born on foreign soil to an American citizen you can assume American citizenship.”
He pointed out the case of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who was the 2008 GOP presidential nominee and was born in the Panama Canal Zone (then a U.S. territory) to American parents. The Tea Party Express isn’t part of the birther movement, but a former volunteer and talk radio host, Mark Williams, was kicked out of the organization after he said Obama was an “Indonesian Muslim turned welfare thug” in 2010.
Others who raised questions about Obama are toeing the same line on Cruz. Orly Taitz, a prominent figure in the birther movement, said she will take legal action if Cruz wins the White House and the courts don’t declare him a natural-born citizen. “I’m very consistent in what I’m saying: I’m saying there’s the same issue with Obama and Ted Cruz,” Taitz told U.S. News & World Report.
Donald Trump, who led the call for Obama to produce his birth certificate and is exploring a run for president in 2016, also is skeptical of Cruz meeting the qualifications to be president. "He's got a hurdle that nobody else seems to have at this moment. It's a hurdle and somebody could certainly look at it very seriously. He was born in Canada," Trump told Fox’s New York television affiliate on Monday.