Presidential hopeful Donald Trump has gone where no candidate has dared – criticizing Carly Fiorina’s appearance, mocking Sen. Marco Rubio’s height, and even questioning Dr. Ben Carson’s religious beliefs, but he may want to tread carefully in challenging the eligibility of his chief rival for the presidential nomination.

Speaking in Iowa last week, Trump revived an accusation that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz may not, in fact, meet the eligibility requirements for the job, suggesting that Cruz must resolve the question prior to the fall campaign when Democrats could make it an issue.

“Can you imagine if I did it? Should I do it just for fun?” Trump asked.

Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta to an American mother and a Cuban father who had entered the United States in 1957 on a foreign student visa. The couple were working in Canada at the time, but moved to Texas when Cruz was 4-years-old.

At issue is one of only three Constitutional requirements for the office of the presidency: that the candidate be at least 35-years of age, have been resident in the U.S. for the previous 14 years, and – the requirement at issue – be a “natural born citizen of the United States.”

The term “natural born citizen” is not defined in the Constitutional itself, but has been defined in federal statute.

Both parties questioned the eligibility of their opponents in 2008, but the claims were found without merit in lower court actions.

Although the Supreme Court has not heard a case with Cruz’s exact facts, in two separate cases it found that a child born on U.S. soil is a citizen and that a child born to an American citizen while living or traveling abroad, as was Cruz, have the same legal status.

While the question might make for fascinating debate on news programs and talk radio, the strategy might well backfire on Trump if voters view it as a strategy to avoid talking about the issues.



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