CHARLESTON, South Carolina — Mike Huckabee said Thursday that there is a "convincing and compelling" case to be made that presidential candidate Ted Cruz's Canadian birth makes him ineligible for the presidency, an issue that has been raised by growing number of conservatives.
Donald Trump first raised the issue earlier this month, and while the notion has been largely laughed off by most legal experts and political pundits, it has steadily gained traction on the campaign trail over the past week. Cruz, who was born in Canada, has dismissed the question, arguing that he qualifies for the presidency because his mother is a natural-born United States citizen.
Asked by BuzzFeed News in a post-debate press gaggle whether he thinks Cruz is eligible for the presidency, Huckabee said, "It was never a concern of mine until I started reading the opinions of many constitutional law scholars, who gave a very, very compelling and convincing legal case that this is problematic."
Most legal scholars agree with Cruz's interpretation of the natural-born-citizen clause, but there have been some notable exceptions, and the Supreme Court has never ruled on the specificities of Cruz's case.
Huckabee said he didn't know for sure whether Cruz met the constitutional requirement, and concluded his answer with a joke referencing his shared hometown with former president Bill Clinton.
"I'm not a lawyer, I can't tell you," Huckabee said. "But the one thing I can absolutely give you with assurance: I was born in Hope, Arkansas and I can prove it. And I promise you the country has already established that you can be president if you were born in Hope, Arkansas. I just say let's give Hope one more chance."
McKay Coppins is a senior writer for the BuzzFeed News politics team, and the author of The Wilderness, about the battle over the future of the Republican Party.
Contact McKay Coppins at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.