Senator Ted Cruz and 7 Other Politicians at the Heart of Birther Conspiracies

PHOTO: Sen. Ted Cruz speaks at the 40th annual Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, MD., Saturday, March 16, 2013.AP/Carolyn Kaster
Sen. Ted Cruz speaks at the 40th annual Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, MD., Saturday, March 16, 2013.

intro: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is at the center of the latest "birther" conspiracy. But he's not the first to face this line of questioning.

A handful of politicians have been targeted in the last few years with the same accusation -- that they are not fit for the Presidency because they do not meet the constitutionally-mandated eligibility requirement of being a "natural-born" U.S. citizen.

See Also: Brookings Survey- Over Six in Ten Americans Back Citizenship

Confusion around who qualifies as a "natural born" citizen has contributed to the debate, as the Constitution does not explicitly define the phrase. Some incorrectly presume it only includes people born within the boundaries of the United States. In fact, by U.S. citizenship law you can be American "at birth" or a "natural born citizen" under a few circumstances that don't involve being born on the mainland. For example, if you're born on a U.S. military base abroad, like in Panama, that counts. You are still categorized as being American "at birth" if one or both of your parents are U.S. citizens and fit a list of long and complicated requirements that arebroken down here.

Check out our list of politicians who have battled "birther" claims.

quicklist: 1 title: Senator Ted Cruz of Texas text: Ted Cruz, who was born in Canada to an American mother and Cuban father, has sparked birther interest this week. Fox News host Sean Hannity pressed Cruz to explain his birth record.

"Are you eligible to run for president? You were born in Canada," Hannity asked. Cruz then agreed that he was a "U.S. citizen by birth" according to U.S. immigration law.

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quicklist: 2 title: Senator John McCain of Arizona text: During his 2008 presidential bid, Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) faced the challenge of proving he was a "natural born" citizen because he was born in the Panama Canal Zone where his father, a Navy officer, was stationed.

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quicklist: 3 title: President Chester Allen Arthur text: Our 21st President is remembered for his facial hair and for the conspiracy theory that he was born in Canada. Dubbed the "original birther controversy," in 1881, when Arthur became president, Democrats insisted that the Republican president wasn't born in Vermont as he claimed, but rather he was born in the French-speaking part of Canada.

According to CBS News, Arthur lied about the year of his birth until the day he died, and refused to answer all questions raised by his critics.

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quicklist:4 title: Governor George W. Romney text: You may remember from the 2012 presidential campaign that Gov. Mitt Romney is very proud that his father was born in Mexico. But, the fact that George Romney's parents were Mormon missionaries in Latin America when he was born wasn't so cute when George Romney was running for the presidency himself in 1968 and had to counter opponents who claimed he didn't meet the requirements for the seat.

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quicklist: 5 title: Senator Marco Rubio of Florida text: In 2011, Marco Rubio (R-Florida) faced birther claims that he might not be eligible for higher office because his parents were not citizens when he was born. Rubio's office admitted that they had botched some dates on his website in regards to their naturalization, but dismissed the birther claims completely.

"We have not paid any attention to the birthers," Rubio's spokesperson Alex Conant told Politico.

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quicklist:6 title: Governor Bobby Jindal text: So, Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-Louisiana) is an outlier on our list, because he's the only one who's "birthered" himself. After Jindal said that he would sign a state bill to require candidates for presidency on the Louisiana ballot to show proof of "natural born" citizenship, his critics published an editorial sayng that "Piyush Amrit Jindal is the last man in America who should give his blessing to a birth bill." Jindal shot back that his middle name wasn't "Amrit" and published his own birth certificate to prove it.

Bernie Pinsonat, a Louisiana political analyst, told Reuters the whole episode was unnecessary.

"I have no idea why he did this (release the certificate) except maybe he thinks he'll get some popularity points nationally," Pinsonat said. "Nobody in Louisiana doubts that he was born in the United States."

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quicklist:7 title: Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona text: Senator Barry Goldwater was born in the Arizona territory in 1909, three years before it officially became a U.S. state. During his 1964 presidential campaign, the issue briefly was under debate. On a related note, the first nine Presidents of the U.S. were also technically born as British subjects, before the United States officially declared its independence.

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quicklist:8 title: President Barack Obama text: One of the most significant "birther" controversies in American history is undoubtedly that of our current president. With businessman Donald Trump as one of the movement's leaders, the "birthers" claimed that the 44th president may have been born in Kenya. In 2011, Obama released his birth certificate, which indicates that he was born in Hawaii, but noted that he was puzzled that questions regarding his birth persisted. "We do not have time for this kind of silliness," he said. "We're not going to be able to solve our problems if we get distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers."

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