Ted Cruz responded to John McCain questioning his eligibility for the presidency, saying the Arizona senator is secretly trying to boost Marco Rubio’s chances at the Republican nomination.

“I think it is no surprise to anybody that John McCain is going to be supporting Marco Rubio in this election,” Cruz told Mark Halperin of Bloomberg’s “With All Due Respect.” “It’s no surprise at all that he’s trying to do what he can to help the candidate that he’s favoring who he thinks shares policy positions with him.”…

“The legal question is straightforward and clear,” Cruz said.

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Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz dismissed Donald Trump’s latest salvo concerning his citizenship status on Thursday.

“No, it’s not anything that’s going to happen, and I’m not going to be taking legal advice anytime soon from Donald Trump,” Cruz said…

“My response when Donald tossed this attack out was simply to tweet out a video of Fonzie from Happy Days jumping a shark and to move on,” Cruz said, calling the current moment the “silly season” of politics.

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“I noticed something in the reading that you had mentioned something about Cruz’s birth…that he was born in Canada,” “Face the Nation” moderator John Dickerson noted during an interview with Trump last month in North Carolina. “Are you saying something there?”

“Well, I’ll only bring it up if he’s a final two,” Trump replied.

And while the GOP primary is far from being whittled down to only two candidates, Cruz has arguably emerged as Trump’s strongest rival.

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“I was stunned when I heard what John McCain said,” Kelli Ward, McCain’s tea party-backed challenger, told BuzzFeed News in a statement. “I couldn’t believe my ears – he was questioning Ted Cruz’s citizenship when he was in a similar situation himself!”…

Ward continued, “This is just one more reason that our next conservative president needs strong reinforcements in Congress. Can you imagine what a President Ted Cruz would have to deal with if we still have a Senator John McCain in the Senate?”…

McCain has been more critical of Cruz than he has been of Obama. Mr. McCain’s disdain for conservatives has gone too far – his desire to cling to the empire he has created for himself inside the Beltway has clouded his vision. The people of Arizona and the US are looking to change DC and the status quo. Questions like this, by a senior senator regarding a top contender for the presidency from the same party, are divisive and unnecessary.”

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Trump is actually doing Cruz a huge favor. In Trump’s defense, he was asked about the Cruz issue, which doesn’t mean his intentions are not mercenary, but it also means that the net-benefit has been to prematurely explode the DC Media’s planned October Surprise…

How different would the 2000 election outcome have looked had a Donald Trump brought up George W. Bush’s drunk driving incident during the primary?…

The national debate over Cruz’s eligibility *is* going to happen, and it must happen.

The only question, then, is *when* will this be litigated once and for all in front of the American people.

Who doesn’t think now is better than October?

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First, it is a settled constitutional and statutory matter. It was settled when Trump said it was settled in September and it was settled when Trump flip-flopped and said it was an issue a few days ago. Cruz’s mother is an American citizen, was an American citizen when she gave birth to Cruz, and is, in fact, Cruz’s mother. Seems fairly simple. Not only that, American citizens give birth to American citizens, whether here or abroad. That’s not only common sense, it is the law. And think about it for a moment — if you follow their stupid argument, babies born of American citizens serving abroad in our military would be non-naturalized citizens ineligible to run for president. That’s stupid.

Moreover, we don’t need federal judges to tell us what we can discern on our own. We can read the constitution, statutes, history, etc. Just because the Supreme Court has not ruled does not mean the issue isn’t settled. And it is highly doubtful the court would involve itself anyway under the political question doctrine. However, Trump is free to bring a lawsuit and “settle” the issue. Crazy lib Alan Grayson has already declared he will do so, even though he has no standing.

Second, the idea that debating a stupid issue like this, where now Trump is joined by Obama and McCain, who are seeking to settle scores, among others, will somehow discourage Democrats from raising it in the general election should Cruz be the nominees is also stupid – or at least naive. Why would it stop them? Nothing is settled when it comes to the Left’s tactics. This argument is, well, stupid.

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Trump reemerged as a political force on the basis of his own championing of birtherism in 2011; he allegedly bankrolled investigators who he sent to Hawaii to look into Obama’s origins, though he never released the results. Even since Obama released his long-form birth certificate, as Trump demanded, Trump has quietly continued to espouse birtherism. Given all that, it would be hard for him to not at least go through some motions on questioning Cruz’s eligibility—even if Obama had been born abroad, his mother was an American citizen, which would give him the same claim to citizenship that Cruz does. (Not that Trump has allowed a foolish consistency to be the hobgoblin of his “really smart” mind.)

Moreover, the birther attack gives Trump a good method to attack Cruz, who has recently emerged as his major rival in polling both nationally and in Iowa. But what kind of weapon is birtherism? It is, at its root, an effective way of telling voters that Cruz isn’t like them. That he’s not one of us. That he’s different. In other words, it capitalizes on all of the anti-immigrant, anti-foreigner sentiments that have driven his campaign all along…

Cruz positioned himself for months as someone similar to Trump, in the hopes that when Trump imploded (as was widely expected), he could take over Trump’s voters. Instead, Cruz has risen while Trump stays high, which means they’re still fighting for those voters. The very particular subset of voters who were susceptible to birtherism are likely also sympathetic to Trump. Emphasizing Cruz’s otherness is a good way to keep them in his camp.

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Cruz has been laughing this all off in public. It wouldn’t be surprising, however, if the Cruz campaign is thinking through this more seriously in private. Trump hasn’t put Cruz in a corner just yet but has put him in, shall we say, a spot.

Many Republican primary voters, in large part because of Cruz and Trump’s rhetoric this campaign, are inclined to pick up on and feel unnerved by even the smallest whiffs of foreignness. Recall that Cruz, after news of his dual citizenship came out, renounced his Canadian citizenship in 2014. Why did he do that? I, for one, would love to have the option of a second citizenship in Canada, especially depending on the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. But Cruz perceived his Canadian citizenship as a political liability, and now Trump is reinserting the words Cruz and Canada into the news cycle…

It’s also worth considering how the rest of the political world has met Trump’s hypothesizing. Cruz has a lot of enemies: his rivals for the nomination, Republicans in Congress, Democrats in Congress … pretty much everyone. All of this is well deserved, because Cruz uses every person and institution around him as a prop for his own personal advancement. When Trump started talking about Cruz’s birth this week, he was not universally condemned, as he usually is when he says something strange. There’s been a surprisingly broad range of actors fanning Trump’s statement…

Cruz will treat the questions of eligibility as laughable until he can’t, and that point may be coming. Maybe he will end up seeking the declaratory judgment that Trump, ever the pal, has counseled him to seek for his own good. But it would be humiliating, and Trump knows that.

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What’s remarkable is how much Cruz has tolerated over the last six months when the two were de facto allies, revealing how cynical and self-interested Cruz is capable of being. And their break-up, in turn, reveals the extent of Cruz’s isolation in the Republican Party…

Cruz was willing to tolerate Trump’s insults to Mexicans and Muslims as well as stalwart Republicans like John McCain. It was only when Cruz himself became the subject of Trumpian fire that he decided enough was enough. Cruz’s position is cowardly and self-centered: he refused to have stronger words for Trump’s outrages because he didn’t want to offend Trump’s supporters, and that pusillanimity was in the service of an extremely selfish worldview…

Having broken with Trump, Cruz finds himself almost friendless in the Republican Party. And now that Trump has made Cruz birtherism an issue, many others are eager to join in the pile-on…

Trump questioned McCain’s heroic war record, but McCain still hates Cruz much more (even if this is because of Cruz’s right-wing grandstanding in the Senate rather than Cruz’s alliance with Trump). Whatever the cause, Cruz has many enemies in the Republican Party who are more than willing to help Trump demolish the Texas senator.

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