By Ben Kamisar - 01/14/16 09:49 PM EST
Ted CruzTed CruzVa. GOP delegate files lawsuit over bound convention votes Our most toxic export: American politick 'Never Trump' group ad compares Trump to Reagan MORE counter-attacked Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump's first fundraising email had 60 percent spam rate Trump, Clinton fundraising off Brexit vote UK vote triggers talks with US MORE on the "birther" issue Thursday, arguing that under some theories, Trump would be ineligible to serve in the White House because his mother was born in Scotland.
In a long back-and-forth between the GOP’s top two contenders for the GOP presidential nomination, Cruz accused Trump of focusing on his birth in Canada because of his strong poll numbers.
The Texas senator noted that Trump had previously said there was “nothing to this birther issue” until Cruz started beating him at the polls in Iowa.
“The legal issue is quite straightforward, but I would note that the birther theories that Donald has been relying on, some of the more extreme ones insist that you must not only be born on U.S. soil, but have two parents born on U.S. soil,” Cruz continued.
“Under that theory, not only would I be disqualified, Marco Rubio would be disqualified, Bobby Jindal would be disqualified, and interestingly enough, Donald J. Trump would be disqualified because Donald's mother was born in Scotland,” Cruz said, referring to two other GOP presidential contenders.
Cruz added that he wouldn't use Trump's mother's birth against him and called for candidates to focus on bigger issues.
Trump interjected that Cruz wasn’t doing so because it wouldn’t work.
Trump has argued that Democrats could bring a lawsuit against Cruz serving in the White House because of his birth in Canada to an American mother.
When asked by Fox Business Network moderator Neil Cavuto why he wanted to bring the issue up now, Trump was open about the fact that it was because of Cruz's rising poll numbers.
"Because now he's doing a little bit better. No, I didn't care before, it's true," Trump said to boos from the audience.
Cruz pushed back once again by noting his service as Texas's solicitor general.
"I've spent my entire life defending the Constitution before the U.S. Supreme Court and I'll tell you, I'm not going to be taking legal advice from Donald Trump," he said.
When Trump noted that his former Harvard Law professor Lawrence Tribe agrees with him, Cruz brushed that aside too.
"Let me tell you who Larry Tribe is — he's a left-wing, judicial activist, Harvard law professor who was Al Gore's lawyer in Bush v. Gore, he's a major Hillary Clinton supporter and there's a reason why Hillary's supporters are echoing Donald's attacks on me — because Hillary wants to face Donald Trump in the general election," he said.
"If this all works out, I'm happy to consider naming you as VP so if you happen to be right, you can get the top job at the end of the day," Cruz joked.
Trump said he'd likely keep building buildings in such a scenario.