Trump, Cruz Spar Over Immigration and Citizenship — Cruz’s Citizenship, That Is

It all started at a Christian bookstore in Boone, Iowa.

Video emerged today of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) answering a question from a voter on the first stop of his bus tour, in which he explained the “difference” between his immigration plan and Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump’s.

Cruz, who’s surged past Trump in the key early state of Iowa, said that he’s like Trump in that he also supports deporting immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally.

But then he added: “Look, there’s a difference. He’s advocated allowing folks to come back in and become citizens. I oppose that.”

ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images
ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

Trump responded forcefully from Massachusetts on Tuesday, bringing up old questions about Cruz’s U.S. citizenship. He hinted that even though Cruz’s citizenship was bestowed at birth through his mother, his presidency could be held up by a legal challenge — and Republican voters should consider that when choosing a nominee, Trump argued.

“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,” Trump said during a backstage interview ahead of a campaign event. “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.”

Cruz, who was born in Calgary, Canada in 1970, has argued that he’s eligible to run for president, and many legal experts have agreed. But it all comes down to the phrase in the U.S. Constitution requiring any president to be a “natural-born citizen” — a definition that courts haven’t fully fleshed out.

After Trump’s comments, Cruz took to the rapid response outlet of Twitter — tweeting a Youtube video of “Happy Days” character Fonzie “jumping the shark.” The phrase is a common cliché referring to the point in time when a television show has officially become irrelevant or absurd.

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