Sen. John McCainJohn McCainPoliticians absent from Thompson Reuters brunch McCain downplays threat of pre-emptive strike against North Korea McCain plan gains momentum amid North Korea threats MORE (R-Ariz.) on Monday defended his previous comments raising questions about Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzKasich finds it hard to rule out 2020 Trump in campaign mode at NRA convention Trump’s hands are tied on 9th Circuit MORE's (R-Texas) eligibility to run for president, saying it needs to be examined.
"I assume he's eligible but all of these things need to be looked at," McCain told reporters, adding that Cruz wouldn't necessarily need to go to court but "could consult some respected constitutional scholars."
McCain caught attention earlier this month after telling the "Chris Merrill Show" that he didn't think it was "illegitimate to look into" Cruz's eligibility. He then added that during a separate interview with the "Michael Medved Show" that he "would assume" Cruz, who was born in Canada, was eligible.
The Arizona Republican suggested on Monday that his previous comments had been blown out of proportion, telling reporters, "All I said was it ought to be looked at, and then all the sudden kaboom."
McCain's comments have earned him pushback from Cruz. The Texas Republican suggested that he's trying to help Sen. Marco RubioMarco RubioLongtime GOP incumbent will not seek reelection Overnight Defense: Commander calls North Korea crisis 'worst' he's seen | Trump signs VA order | Dems push Trump to fill national security posts What’s with Trump’s spelling mistakes? MORE (R-Fla.), who is also running for president and who Cruz predicted McCain will endorse.
The Arizona senator however rejected that, saying, "I am endorsing no one," before adding, "You always consider your options, but I certainly not considering Marco Rubio at this point or anyone—anyone at this point."
Cruz's eligibility to run for president has been under the media spotlight since Donald TrumpDonald TrumpSeven key players for Trump on immigration Spicer: Media coverage of Trump has not been fair Kasich finds it hard to rule out 2020 MORE, the front-runner for the Republican nomination, suggested that he should go to court to settle the matter.
Cruz, however, has defended his status, telling CNN's "State of the Union" that "as a legal matter, the Constitution and federal law are clear that the child of a U.S. citizen is a natural born citizen.”
McCain, who was the Republican presidential nominee in 2008, was born in the Panama Canal Zone. While the Senate previously passed a resolution confirming McCain's eligibility to run for president, Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellStudy: Trump tops recent GOP presidents in signing bills in first 100 days Senate passes stopgap funding bill to avert shutdown Let’s never talk about a government shutdown — ever again MORE (R-Ky.) said the same won't be done for Cruz in an effort to keep the upper chamber out of the 2016 presidential battle.