Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump on Sunday hammered away at his closest challenger’s eligibility to be U.S. president, while the party’s Senate leader said the chamber will stay out of the fray involving Ted Cruz’s citizenship.
Under the Constitution, presidents must be “natural born citizens.” Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta, to an American mother, which he says makes him eligible to run.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told ABC’s “This Week” the Senate would not act to counter Trump’s claim that Cruz’s Canadian birth makes him ineligible to be president. The father of the senator from Texas was born in Cuba.
In 2008, the Senate passed a resolution declaring Senator John McCain, a Republican presidential candidate, a natural born citizen. McCain was born to American parents on a U.S. military base in the Panama Canal Zone.
“I just don’t think the Senate ought to get into the middle of this,” McConnell said. “These guys are all slugging it out in Iowa and New Hampshire. We’ll have a nominee, hopefully, by sometime in the spring.”
The winner will face the Democrats’ nominee in the November general election.
Trump, who leads Republican candidates in national opinion polls, is grappling with the rise of Cruz in Iowa, which holds the first presidential nominating contest next month.
As Cruz took the lead in Iowa before its Feb. 1 caucuses, Trump’s glare followed. The billionaire businessman highlighted the citizenship issue last week, warning that Democrats could challenge Cruz’s eligibility in court.