Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump is taking the polite approach to attacking opponent Texas Senator Ted Cruz by making an issue about his birthplace. Trump spoke to The Washington Post in an interview released before his rally in Massachusetts on Tuesday evening, Jan. 5, 2016. In the interview, Trump questioned the “precarious” “big problem” Cruz’s country of birth could cause Republicans if he should become the party’s presidential nominee as the GOP candidate was born in Canada.
Trump commented to the Washington Post about the potential legal problems a Cruz nomination could cause, “Republicans are going to have to ask themselves the question: ‘Do we want a candidate who could be tied up in court for two years?’ That’d be a big problem … It’d be a very precarious one for Republicans because he’d be running and the courts may take a long time to make a decision. You don’t want to be running and have that kind of thing over your head.”
Trump was more polite than usual in his attempt to discredit his rival, saying, “I’d hate to see something like that get in his way. But a lot of people are talking about it and I know that even some states are looking at it very strongly, the fact that he was born in Canada and he has had a double passport.”
Cruz responded with a tweet, “My response to @realDonaldTrump calling into question my natural-born citizenship?” The Texas senator linked to a video a clip from the 1970s TV show Happy Days season five, episode three when “Fonzie jumps the Shark on Happy Days.” The episode depicts “the character Fonzie jump[ing] over a school of sharks on water skis.” The episode created the term “jump the shark,” which is “used to describe the moment at which a television show begins to lose its quality.”
Cruz was not so subtly referring to Trump’s campaign, which he implies is veering off the point. Speaking to a reporter after a campaign event Cruz elaborated, “I think I’m going to let my response stick with that tweet. Because the best way to respond to this kind of attack is to laugh it off.”
Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada to an American mother and Cuban father, and he has spent most of his life in the US. The Constitution “requires that a president” be “natural-born citizen,” Cruz qualifies because his mother was an American. Cruz however, had dual citizenship, and only renounced his Canadian citizenship in May 2014 after he became a U.S. Senator from Texas. Cruz has also released his birth certificate. Trump was a birther, who famously questioned whether President Barack Obama was really born in the U.S. Trump challenged the president to release his long-form birth certificate, which he did.
This is not the first time Trump has gone after Cruz over his birthplace, he did so just before the Texas senator announced he is running for the Republican presidential nomination. In March 2015, Trump gave an interview to My Fox New York, telling them “It’s a hurdle; somebody could certainly look at it very seriously. He was born in Canada. If you know and when we all studied our history lessons, you are supposed to be born in this country, so I just don’t know how the courts will rule on this.”
Trump has been easy on Cruz until now, and he has not attacked him as if he has his other GOP opponents. Last December, Trump was saying about Cruz, “Everything I say, he agrees with me. No matter what I say,” and said “Cruz has “been so nice to me…but think the time will come to an end pretty … I mean, I can say anything, and he said, “I agree, I agree.”
In November, it sounded as if Trump was considering Cruz as a possible running mate, praising Cruz to told radio host Laura Ingraham, “Well, I like him, he’s backed everything I’ve said … Ted Cruz is now agreeing with me 100 percent.” Now, however, Cruz is leading Trump in Iowa, less than a month before the Feb. 1 Iowa caucus, and he has become a threat, and Trump does like threats so the attacks begin and considering Trump are will bound to get uglier.