The Corner

Politics & Policy

The Return of Birtherism

Will Donald Trump’s passive-aggressive introduction of the fact that Ted Cruz was born in Alberta, Canada, cause problems for the Texas senator? (“I’d hate to see something like that get in his way,” Trump told the Washington Post on Tuesday. So much for authenticity…!) 

Trump was famous, but he rose to political stardom in 2011 by raising questions about President Obama’s place of birth and ultimately forcing him to hand over his birth certificate to put an end to the ruckus.

There’s cause to think this line of attack could hurt Cruz, and it is something about which the Cruz campaign has long been concerned. First, I don’t think many Americans, including many of his supporters, actually know that he was born in Canada. Second, among that group, Trump’s line of attack against the president — and media coverage of the issue — proved effective.

At the time, in April of 2011, 37 percent of Republicans told Fox News they did not think the president was born in the United States. The subject of Obama’s birth has since receded from the headlines, and in September of last year, just 19 percent of Republicans told CNN they think the president was born somewhere other than the United States. (Thanks to Chris Stirewalt at Fox News for flagging those polls.) If Trump’s attack on Cruz gets continued media coverage, there’s reason to believe it will stick. 

And, though it may not be as effective against a friend like Cruz as it was against a foe like Obama, Trump does seem like the only candidate who could really take the bark off Cruz and who, until now, has resisted laying a hand on him. 

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