Washington Bureau

02.24.14

Here Come The Democratic Birthers

Representative Alan Grayson, a Florida Democrat, is already playing the birther card on Ted Cruz.

What? You thought only Republicans could be birthers?

In a fundraising email sent out Monday, the bombastic, bombthrowing Florida Democrat Alan Grayson included a transcript of remarks from an interview with MSNBC where he claimed that Ted Cruz was ineligible to be president. Grayson said "since Ted Cruz is a Canadian, and our Constitution requires tha[t] an American win, I'm pretty sure that it's not going to be Ted Cruz." Cruz, a 2016 presidential hopeful, was born in Canada but his mother was an American citizen and the Texas senator became a citizen of the United States at birth. 

Although the Constitution says that the President must be a "natural born citizen," the term is not defined. However, most legal scholars believe that anyone who is a citizen at birth is "natural born." As Jack Maskell of the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service noted in a report.

“The weight of scholarly legal and historical opinion appears to support the notion that ‘natural born Citizen’ means one who is entitled under the Constitution or laws of the United States to U.S. citizenship ‘at birth’ or ‘by birth,’ including any child born ‘in’ the United States (other than to foreign diplomats serving their country), the children of United States citizens born abroad, and those born abroad of one citizen parent who has met U.S. residency requirements.”

Grayson isn't the first to cast doubt on Cruz's eligibilty to be President. In 2013, reality television millionaire Donald Trump expressed his uncertainty about whether the Texas Senator could be President, telling ABC News "If he was born in Canada, perhaps not.”

The fundraising email contains other jabs at Cruz, most notably in its subject line, which calls the first-term Texas senator "Canada's revenge against the United States for acid rain." Grayson also claimed "Ted Cruz represents the element of the Republican Party that's trying to hasten the apocalypse" while likening the Texas senator to the Jim Jones, the leader of the suicidal cult in Jonestown. 

This is not Grayson's first brush with controversy though. In the past, the Florida Democrat who was first elected in 2008, (although he lost his bid for re-election in 2010 before returning to Congress in 2012), has made a number of other controversial remarks. In 2013, Grayson compared the Tea Party to the Ku Klux Klan and said Republicans want the sick to die quickly on the floor of Congress in 2009.