John McCain and Ted Cruz have never been friends. Cruz is too crazy for McCain’s taste. With Cruz running for president, he’s a prime target for any and all barbs from everyone, including McCain. Recently, Donald Trump brought up Ted Cruz’s eligibility to run for president, because he was born in Canada (at least Trump isn’t being totally hypocritical with his birtherism). We could just say that Trump is being Trump with that, but along comes John McCain to give some legitimacy to the whole thing on a radio show in Arizona.
Host Chris Merrill asked McCain whether Trump “jumped the shark” on the birther question. McCain said:
“[I was born on a military base.] That’s different from being born on foreign soil, so I think there is a question. I am not a Constitutional scholar on that, but I think it’s worth looking into. I don’t think it’s illegitimate to look into it.”
If nothing else, that’s McCain hitting back at Cruz for all the grief that Cruz has caused in the Senate. It’s funny because McCain has faced all of this himself, but because he’s not considered “insane,” he takes the whole thing out of the realm of Trumpism and makes it a legit issue. Listen to his full comments below:
Barry Goldwater set the precedent for “natural-born citizen” in 1964 when he ran for president. Goldwater was born in Arizona, but at the time of his birth, it was a territory, not a state. The Supreme Court ruled that Goldwater qualified as natural-born because Arizona was a U.S. territory, even though it wasn’t a state. McCain got ahead of the issue during his 2008 run by discussing that precedent and clarifying just where, in Panama, he was born.
McCain has called Cruz and other Tea Partiers “wacko birds,” and has problems with Cruz’s tendency to grandstand. Cruz has caused some major problems in the Senate with his idiocy, including the 2013 shutdown fiasco, and holding up a vote on the CRomnibus budget bill in late 2014 over demands that it defund Obama’s immigration executive order. Holding up that vote allowed the outgoing Democratic majority to push through a bunch of Obama’s nominations, which were also being held up by typical Republican obstruction. In other words, Cruz’s gambit in 2014 failed on more than one front, and he severely pissed off Senate Republicans when he did that.
Washington Post writer Chris Cillizza says that this is how the GOP establishment’s white-hot hatred of Cruz manifests during the primary season. By giving this kind of legitimacy to the birther question, McCain surrounds Cruz with a story that isn’t good for him or his candidacy.
It’s brilliant, it’s cold, and it’s hilarious in its own way.
Image of John McCain by ВО Свобода – День Гідності , 15.12.2013. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons. Image of Ted Cruz by Gage Skidmore. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Flickr. Images merged by Rika Christensen