White House teases Cruz over US citizenship

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President Obama’s spokesman on Wednesday teased Republican presidential candidate Ted CruzTed CruzTrump attacking immigration issue openly and honestly Election 2016: A choice between Goldfinger and Darth Vader Would internet transition have an impact on current US election? MORE over scrutiny surrounding his Canadian birthplace. 

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said “it would be quite ironic” if, after years of questions surrounding Obama’s U.S. citizenship, Republican primary voters were to choose the Canadian-born Cruz as their nominee. 

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Earnest noted Cruz is "somebody who actually wasn't born in the United States and only 18 months ago renounced his Canadian citizenship.”

Asked whether Obama is enjoying watching Cruz deal with questions about his birthplace, Earnest replied, “I don’t know if he does, but I sure do.”

Republican presidential front-runner Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump surrogate tweets cartoon of Clinton in blackface Poll: Portman, Toomey lead Dem challengers in key Senate races Huma leaving Weiner: Private decision, not a public discussion MORE has attacked the Texas senator for being born north of the border. 

“Republicans are going to have to ask themselves the question: ‘Do we want a candidate who could be tied up in court for two years?’ That’d be a big problem,” Trump told The Washington Post before campaign rally on Tuesday.

In response, Cruz’s campaign tweeted a link to a clip from “Happy Days,” suggesting Trump’s claims are old news and have jumped the shark.

"As a legal matter, the question is quite straightforward and settled law that the child of a U.S. citizen born abroad is a natural born citizen," Cruz told reporters in Iowa on Wednesday. "People will continue to make political noise about it, but as a legal matter it is quite straightforward and I would note that it has occurred many times in history."

Only natural-born citizens are eligible to serve as president under the Constitution. Anyone who is born to a U.S. citizen is considered to fall under that category. 

Cruz was born in Canada to an American mother and Cuban-born father. He had dual citizenship before renouncing his Canadian citizenship after being elected to the Senate in 2012.

Trump has repeatedly questioned Obama’s eligibility to serve as president, channeling claims by so-called birthers that he was born in Kenya. 

In 2011, Obama released his long-form birth certificate showing he was born in Hawaii. 

The president roasted Trump in person at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner that year, showing a purported “birth video.” It was a clip from the movie “The Lion King.” 

-- This report was updated at 2:58 p.m.