Social Media Mocks John McCain's Attempt to Go "Birther" on Ted Cruz

Arizona U.S. Senator John McCain appears to have taken a break from blasting President Obama's recent executive order on gun control to go down everyone's favorite conspiracy theory rabbit hole: The birther debate.

Shortly after Republican frontrunner Donald Trump openly questioned Ted Cruz's citizenship and suggested the Texas senator —  Trump's rival du jour — is ineligible for the oval office because he was born in Canada, McCain chimed in.

As a guest on a Phoenix radio station, KFYI-550, McCain was asked by host Chris Merrill about Ted Cruz's citizenship:

"Ted Cruz says [Donald Trump] jumped the shark when he brought up the whole born in Canada thing…I genuinely want to know, how does he run for president if he was born in Canada? The answer, according to lawyers, is that his mother was an American citizen so he’s a naturalized citizen.”

“I don’t know the answer to that," McCain responded. "I am not a Constitutional scholar on that, but I think it’s worth looking into. I don’t think it’s illegitimate to look into it.”

Given that similar issues about McCain's ability to run came up during the 2008 presidential campaign because he was born in Panama, everyone from political pundits to bloggers to social media users exploded over the comment. (An outraged Senate even passed a non-binding resolution in 2008 declaring McCain was eligible.)

But McCain, who did not respond to New Times' request for comment, dug in.

He attempted to defend his stance by saying: "I know it came up in my race because I was born in Panama, but I was born in the Canal Zone, which is a territory," adding that he was born on "a U.S. military base, [which is] different from being born on foreign soil. So I think there is a question." 

According to the New York Times political fact-checking team, legal scholars agree that Cruz is eligible — Cruz renounced his Canadian citizenship years ago.

Social media users appeared un-surprised by Trump's birther language — the GOP candidate famously still does not believe Obama is a citizen.

But from McCain? — Here are some of our favorite reactions:

Even Donald Trump weighed in: And then offered his frenemy, Cruz, some  advice: How will this end? Who knows. But it sure is fun to watch.


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Miriam is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Miriam Wasser