This weekend, the GOP presidential primary actually became a three-man race, and Donald Trump suddenly realized that he’d forgotten to hit one of his two top rivals with birther accusations. As he’s wont to do, Trump kicked off the Rubio-bashing with a retweet:
When asked about the insinuation Sunday on ABC’s This Week With George Stephanopoulos, Trump suggested he was still mainly concerned with whether Ted Cruz, who was born in Canada to an American mother, counts as a “natural born citizen.” “It was a retweet — not so much with Marco,” he said. “I mean, let people make their own determination.”
“I’ve never looked at it, George,” Trump continued. “I honestly have never looked at it. As somebody said, he’s not. And I retweeted it. I have 14 million people between Twitter and Facebook and Instagram, and I retweet things and we start dialogue and it’s very interesting.”
As you’ll recall, the controversy over whether Cruz is eligible to run for president, which is now the subject of several legal complaints, began with Trump merely asking questions.
While the matter of Cruz’s eligibility has not been settled, despite what the Texas senator claims, it’s pretty clear that Rubio is a “natural born citizen.” He was born in Miami, but both of his parents are Cubans who became naturalized U.S. citizens later in life. As the term “natural born citizen” is not defined in the Constitution, committed birthers have been questioning Rubio’s citizenship for years — however the arguments against his eligibility are even more convoluted than those against Cruz.
Rubio dismissed the allegations on This Week, saying, “Look, this is a pattern. This is a game he plays. He says something that’s edgy and outrageous and then the media flocks and covers that and then no one else can get any coverage on anything else.”
And even the other candidates agree with Rubio. “It’s a very different thing,” said one of his GOP rivals. “[Rubio] was born here. He was born on the land. Ted was not born on the land, and there’s a very strict reading that you have to be born on the land.” That quote is actually from an interview Trump did with CNN back in January, but as the front-runner has explained, it’s wrong to hold him accountable for things he’s said in the past.