Prominent conservative radio host Glenn Beck took Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul to task on his radio show Thursday for questioning Canadian-born Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's eligibility to be president.
In the interview, Paul admitted after much prodding that he thought a court would most likely decide Cruz to be eligible for the presidency, but maintained that it was an open question.
Right off the bat, Paul found himself on the defense against Beck, who has notably supported Paul in the past.
"I have real respect for you and you are a constitutional expert. I mean that's why I like you. And you've done something that I just don't understand, that I just didn't expect. I expected it from Rubio. I expected it from everybody, but I didn't expect it from you," said Beck to Paul on Thursday. "And that's this birther nonsense with Ted Cruz where you joke — and I accept the joke at first, 'eh, might be a good prime minister in Canada,' I accept the joke — but then when you're pushed on it you say, 'well, I'm not a constitutional expert. I don't know.' Come on man, yes you do. Yes you do."
Paul last week mocked Cruz saying, "You know, I think without question he is qualified and would make the cut to be prime minister of Canada," which he defended to Beck by saying the issue was undecided.
"Well, I think the reason that nobody really knows the answer is it's never been adjudicated," Paul said. "You know, we've never had a nominee or a president who wasn't born in the United States. I'm not saying that he isn't eligible. I'm simply saying that Democrats of course will bring this up and it will have to be adjudicated because it's never happened before."
Beck cut off Paul, citing John McCain and Barry Goldwater. Goldwater was born in Arizona when it was just a U.S. territory and McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone.
"The court decided in those cases that U.S. territories were part of the U.S. and Canada, frankly, is not a U.S. territory," Paul answered.
"If you're not a constitutional scholar, if you're not a constitutional expert, then what the hell are we voting for you for," Beck said to Paul.
Paul responded, "If we want debate what a natural born citizen is, you have to go back to either what the Founding Fathers said or the constitutional convention said, and the bottom line is it is ambiguous, and when things are ambiguous..."
Beck cut him off, saying, "Let me ask this question, what does Rand Paul say, not what the courts say, what does — you know you've studied this out in your head enough. If you weren't running for president of the United States and I understand the politics of it, I really do, but if you weren't running for president of the United States, come on man, if we're justing sitting in a room together, what would you say? Is he qualified to run for president or not?"
"If I had to guess I would say the courts, in all likelihood, will say yes, but I would say that no court has ever decided what it means to be natural born with regards to eligibility of the president," said Paul. "I think it's an open question as far as the courts are concerned."
Andrew Kaczynski is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Andrew Kaczynski at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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