By Ronn Torossian, CEO, 5W PR
To this point in the GOP presidential race, Ted Cruz has largely avoided friendly fire. Now, it seems the honeymoon is over for the Iowa front-runner – and number two overall.
These shots began with Donald Trump though The Donald’s comments were little more than a glancing blow .. before his fellow GOP candidates piled on.
Just about everyone knows Ted Cruz was born in Calgary, Canada. This is not information Cruz has ever shied away from. On the surface, that seems to disqualify the candidate from presidential consideration, but, because Cruz’s mother is American (his father is Cuban) experts say Ted is a “natural-born citizen.” And Cruz renounced his Canadian citizenship in 2014.
So, he’s in … not so fast, some say.
Now, you might expect unrepentant “birther” Trump to be at the head of the parade challenging Cruz, but you would be wrong. To date, Donald and Ted have got along famously on the campaign. Even in debates, the two have been positively chummy. But it was Donald who made a single offhand comment – well, a tweet (of course) – that got the hubbub going again.
Initially, Cruz and his PR team just let it go. Nothing to worry about. Iowa was coming up, and that’s more important. Then, sitting U.S. Senators came after Ted, including one from his own party.
John McCain has always been known as a maverick, and the Arizona senator has little love for his fellow rep from the great southwest. McCain has an unconventional pedigree himself, being born on a U.S. military base in the Panama Canal Zone, but seeing as that is sovereign U.S. territory, McCain saw fit to make a distinction. Regarding Cruz’s eligibility to run, Senator McCain said, “I think there is a question. I am not a constitutional scholar on that, but I think it’s worth looking into. I don’t think it’s illegitimate to look into it.”
That’s when Democrat Senator Nancy Pelosi jumped into the fray, “I do think there is a distinction between John McCain being born to a family and serving our country in Panama than someone born in another country.”
Now, neither came out and said Cruz was ineligible, but that word “distinction” is a decidedly loaded term, particularly when wielded by expert pols such as McCain and Pelosi. They knew the accusation would hit Cruz, and it’s clear they were pulling no punches.
Cruz fired back, insinuating McCain was in the bag for Rubio, getting off two hits in a single shot. Most prognosticators believe the other Cuban-American GOP Presidential candidate in the race, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, is Cruz’s biggest threat. Sure, Trump is leading in most polls, but election watchers believe he will fade once people actually start voting.
Regardless of where all this lands on a literal or legal basis, everyone involved clearly knows the battle will not be fought in the courts. It will be won or lost in the ballot box. Sure, as with Obama, the controversy will continue … but, once you’re in … that’s little more than a footnote.