The Iowa caucuses are three weeks away, and Republican nominee hopeful Donald Trump is seemingly pulling out all the stops. Nothing and nobody seems to be sacred, not even members of his own party.
According to Wall Street Journal, Donald Trump took aim at fellow Republican nominee hopeful Senator Ted Cruz last week, questioning Cruz’s legal ability to run for president. Trump contends that Senator Cruz, who was born in Canada to a United States citizen, is ineligible to run for President because he was born in another country.
It was a very wise move that Ted Cruz renounced his Canadian citizenship 18 months ago. Senator John McCain is certainly no friend of Ted!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 7, 2016
Legally, any children born to a United States citizen are considered United States citizens, regardless of where they were born. Ironically, Senator Ted Cruz has made and continues to make the same accusation against President Barack Obama, despite the fact that President Obama was born in Hawaii. Could Trump’s plan be to separate Senator Ted Cruz from his loyal Tea Party base?
Trump doubled down on his claims during an NBC interview.
“From Ted’s standpoint and from the party’s standpoint, he has to solve this problem, because the Democrats will sue him if he’s the nominee. This matter has not been determined.”
Even well-respected Republican party members are taking note of Trump’s questions. According to CNN, Senator John McCain (R — Arizona) called the question of Ted Cruz’s citizenship a “valid question” worth looking into. Trump is demanding that Cruz get a judge to officially weigh in on whether he is eligible to run for President.
While other opponents and various media outlets have withered and baffled at Trump’s targeted insults, Senator Ted Cruz seems to be immune. According to a NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll, Cruz leads Trump in Iowa, the first state in the United States to hold primary caucuses, by 4 percentage points. The margin of error in the poll was 4.6 percent, meaning either candidate could take the all important early race.
Even the Iowans Trump hopes to win over aren’t immune from his patented brand of backhanded compliments. According to Business Insider, Trump notes that the Iowa caucuses don’t have a track record of picking winners.
“You haven’t been good. In fact, some people say, ‘Oh, it doesn’t matter if you win Iowa.’ Now don’t let them talk to you that way. Don’t let them talk to you that way.”
Business Insider notes that the winners of the 2012 and 2008 Iowa caucuses, Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pennsylvania) and Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee (R), respectively, didn’t win the Republican party nomination. The eventual nominees, Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Senator John McCain, respectively, failed to clinch the general election.
By highlighting Iowa’s recent tendency to pick candidates that don’t win the Republican party nomination, Trump is hedging his bets. If he wins the Iowa caucuses, he can claim that Iowans listened to his appeals and put stock in his promise to “make America great again.”
If Donald Trump loses the Iowa caucuses, he can cite the 2012 and 2008 Iowa caucuses as proof that they mean little in the marathon race to the White House.
The demand that Cruz seek an official judgement on the citizenship question might be a gambit by Trump. If Cruz does seek an official judgement, it will undoubtedly pull his focus from the Presidential campaign.
Despite Senator Ted Cruz’s surge in the Iowa polls, Donald Trump isn’t backing down.
Remember, get TIME magazine! I am on the cover. Take it out in 4 years and read it again! Just watch…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 10, 2016
[Photo by Scott Eisen, Steve Pope/Getty Images]