Cruz Won't Bite on Trump's Birther Bait

Cruz Won't Bite on Trump's Birther Bait
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SIOUX CENTER, Iowa — As Donald Trump once again raises questions about Ted Cruz’s Canadian birth and his eligibility to run for president, Cruz is keeping the gloves on.

“As others have thrown rocks and others have tossed insults, I haven’t reciprocated,” Cruz told reporters prior to an event in Sioux Center on Tuesday, part of a six-day bus tour across Iowa. “And I don’t intend to start now.”

Cruz was slightly less restrained on Twitter, responding with a “Happy Days” clip in which Fonzie jumped a shark during a waterskiing jaunt. But he told reporters that would be the extent of his retort.

“The best way to respond to this kind of attack is to laugh it off and move on,” Cruz said.

Although Trump last year appeared to abandon earlier suggestions about Cruz’s birth in Canada, he exhumed the issue in an interview with the Washington Post, saying it could be “very precarious” for Republicans were Cruz to win the party’s nomination for president.

“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 told the Post.

This is not a new theme for Trump, who famously called into question whether President Obama was born in the United States, and last year posed the same question of Cruz.

“He was born in Canada … if you know … and when we all studied our history lessons … you’re supposed to be born in this country, so I just don’t know how the courts would rule on it,” Trump said in March.

But by September, Trump had concluded the issue was moot.

“I hear it was checked out by every attorney and every which way and I understand Ted is in fine shape,” he told ABC News at the time.

Cruz was born in Canada to an American mother and a Cuban father, making him a natural-born American citizen. His birth also automatically granted Cruz dual citizenship as a Canadian, which he officially revoked in 2014.

Trump has revived the issue at a key moment in the Republican primary, with the Iowa caucuses less than one month away and when Cruz has cemented his status as a threat to Trump. Cruz has recently overtaken Trump in some Iowa polls, although both men remain in strong contention to win that contest.

Cruz, for his part, has made a point on the campaign trail to avoid attacking his Republican opponents directly, hoping to cast his candidacy in a positive light and project confidence in his standing in the polls.

In an interview Monday with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, filmed at a restaurant in Guthrie Center, Iowa, Cruz insisted he would “not focus on the mudslinging” amidst attacks.

“Just focus on telling the truth with the smile,” Cruz said.

Rebecca Berg is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at rberg@realclearpolitics.com.

 

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