Is the fact that Ted Cruz was born in Calgary going to hamper his bid for the U.S. presidency?
Reporter Bill Kaufmann from 'CALGARY SUN' looked into the issue more than two years ago for a special report on Canadian Ted's origin of birth story, published Aug. 25, 2013.
It’s a document with a Calgary pedigree that’s been raised as an unlikely spoiler in American presidential politics.
The Alberta birth certificate, numbered 332834 and dated the last day of 1970, bears the name of Rafael Edward Cruz.
The Canadian birth certificate of U.S. Senator Ted Cruz is seen in this December 31, 1970 document released to Reuters August 20, 2013. Cruz, a Texas Republican whose recent travel has fueled speculation that he may run for president in 2016, has released his birth certificate, showing he was born in Canada to an American mother, the Dallas Morning News reported on Monday. REUTERS/Courtesy of Senator Ted Cruz/Handout via Reuters
That Republican Tea Party star Ted Cruz was born in Calgary on Dec. 22, 1970, has sparked another “birther” debate of whether the Texas senator is eligible to vie for the presidency.
With his birth in Alberta to an American mother, Cruz instantly became a dual citizen of Canada and the U.S.
Cruz’s birthplace entanglement came amids attempts by the Republican Tea Party’s so-called “birther” movement to discredit Barack Obama’s presidency by raising doubts about his country of origin.
Now, with Cruz’s star rising in the Republican presidential nomination sweepstakes, frontrunner Donald Trump has resurrected the Texas senator’s Calgary roots in hopes it’ll throw a wrench into his campaign.
It comes long after Cruz’s attempt in August, 2014 to quell the controversy by releasing the lime green-bordered birth certificate to the Dallas Morning News, while vowing to quickly renounce his Canadian citizenship.
Nonetheless, opponents have dubbed him “Canadian Ted,” fuelling speculation the controversy could follow him well into the primaries.
“Assuming that is true, then sure, I will renounce my Canadian citizenship,” Cruz told the Dallas Morning News.
“Nothing against Canada, but I’m an American citizen by birth ... I believe I should only be an American.”
In May, 2014, Cruz’s wish of dropping the Canadian half of his dual citizenship was been granted - nine months after claiming he’d first learned of it.
But while his senate website in 2013 made no mention of his Canadian birthplace and of his first four years he spent in Calgary, his bio page makes much of his father Rafael’s Cuban origins and rise from humble beginnings.
A telephone request to discuss those early Canadian years made in August, 2013 to Cruz’s Washington office was greeted noncommittally by the senator’s press officers.
“The senator’s very busy this week,” said one staffer. “We’ll try to put you in touch with one of our other press people.”
Nobody from Cruz’s office returned the call.
When reached by a Calgary Sun reporter, a staffer with Cruz’s political foes in the Texas Democratic Party said: “You can take him back.”
But while Obama was born in the U.S. state of Hawaii to an American born mother, Cruz’s beginnings can be clearly traced to Calgary, a Canadian city that happens to have a large American population.
Some Republicans remain adamant in cutting Cruz’s origins plenty of slack, with Texan party member Christina Katok suggesting Canada’s just a 51st state anyway.
“As far as I’m concerned, Canada is not really foreign soil,” Katok told the Texas Tribune at a town hall meeting in 2013.
Meanwhile, some wags on the political left enjoying the irony of Cruz’s birth predicament say the origins of the senator’s mother should be ruthlessly investigated.
VIVA LA REVOLUCIÓN
The paternal side of Cruz’s family traces itself back to Cuba, where his Matanzas-born father fought for Fidel Castro’s revolutionary forces against U.S.-supported dictator Fulgencio Batista in the 1950s.
He’d been tortured by the Batista forces but escaped and fled to the U.S. with $100 stitched into his underwear in 1957 before Castro’s ascension to power, states the senator’s biography.
On Cruz’s website, Castro’s name isn’t invoked and it’s stated only that the older Cruz fought in the “revolution.”
After Batista’s ousting, Rafael Cruz says he became disillusioned with the new Cuban leadership’s socialist and repressive ways, insisting he never knew Castro was a Communist.
Nonetheless, that flight to the U.S. is part of a tale eagerly told by Cruz and his party, as is the story epitomizing the American dream that unfolded from there.
Without initially knowing a word of English, Rafael Cruz eventually put himself through university in Texas while working as a dishwasher at 50 cents an hour.
WELCOME TO CALGARY
With a degree in mathematics and with his Delaware- born wife Eleanor Darragh, Cruz joined many other U.S. residents flocking to Calgary for a piece of the 1960s black-gold rush.
In the Stampede City, the older Cruz set up a geophysical consulting business which he operated when Ted was born.
When their son was four years old, the couple returned to Texas.
Cruz’s father became a U.S. citizen in 2005 and became a pastor in North Dallas. Perhaps understandably, Cruz has said there’s not much he can recall about his infant and toddler years in Calgary.
“It was cold,” he’s said.
When pressed about his Canadian birthplace today, Cruz offers up praise for a vital trading partner.
CRUZ VEERS RIGHT
Living with a dual U.S.- Canadian citizenship, the future senator attended high school in the Houston area.
It was in those years that Cruz began engaging in right-wing politics in earnest as a member of the Free Market Education Foundation.
Cutting his teeth on conservative politics led to him taking his place among the young debating elite.
He would win two prestigious national and international debating championships in 1992 before becoming a double ivy leaguer.
Princeton University and Harvard Law school followed, the latter where Cruz edited law and public policy journals.
A legal stint took university graduate Cruz to the highest reaches of the federal government and earned him numerous kudos as a brilliant litigator.
He was a policy adviser for the Bush-Cheney administration before being appointed as Texas’ youngest solicitor general in history in 2003, and its first Hispanic one.
Cruz went on to be the longest-serving solicitor general in Texas, only stepping down in 2008.
During that time, he attracted national Republican attention by successfully beating back attempts to reopen the convictions of death row inmates and defending the constitutionality of the Ten Commandments monument at the Texas State capitol.
He’s also used those legal skills to defend gun ownership rights.
By 2012 he was ready to reach for the ring in the showdown for a senatorial seat in the Lone Star State — and did just that.
In January, 2013, he was sworn in as the junior senator from Texas but has quickly ditched that beginner status to grasp the mantle of a serious contender in the GOP presidential stakes.
As a senator, he’s been in the forefront of torpedoing the Obama administration’s efforts for firearms background checks and has spearheaded repeatedly futile efforts to derail the so-called Obamacare health-care legislation. Though he’s the son of a Cuban emigre, Cruz has also followed the Tea Party’s hard line against smoothing the path to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants.
Those positions on Obamacare and immigration have put Cruz at odds with many in his party who fear the stances will stymie the GOP in attracting voters, particularly those among the growing Latino community.
‘SO MANY LAYERS OF IRONY’
More than happy to see Republicans torn from within over Cruz is 13-year Calgarian Mare Montell Donly, a California native and member of the local chapter of the voter registration group Democrats Abroad.
“There’s so many layers of irony and hypocrisy,” says U.S. citizen Montell Donly, adding Cruz’s family was more than happy to benefit from Canada’s universal health care system with a birth that could have cost them big money in the U.S.
It’s sad, she says, that Americans are so hostile to origins or influences beyond their borders, and that Cruz’s Canadian birth shouldn’t exempt him from any U.S. political office.
“It should be more of a compliment ... there are so many other things in policy issues that should keep him from getting elected,” she said.
Cruz’s hard-core conservative views, she says, are pure Texas and proves the senator has taken none of his Canadian roots to heart.
Most U.S. constitutional scholars say because he was born to an American mother who lived many years in the U.S., the place of Cruz’s birth shouldn’t be an impediment to the White House.
In a statement issued in August, 2013, Cruz said his nearly four decades of living in the U.S. has left him shocked over the controversy.
“Because I have never taken affirmative steps to claim Canadian citizenship, I assumed that was the end of the matter,” he said.
“When I was a kid, my mom told me that I could choose to claim Canadian citizenship if I wanted. I got my U.S. passport in high school.”
That professed surprise that he retained an automatic Canadian citizenship due to his birthplace speaks more to dishonesty than it does political eligibility, insists Donly.
“He’s very disingenuous — surely he had some knowledge of that,” said Donly, adding she’d like to someday have Canadian-U. S dual citizenship.
What the controversy over his birth should do, says Donly, is to wholly discredit the so-called birther harassment of Obama.
“This should be some justice to shut up the birthers, but it won’t,” said Donly. In 2013, the main website of Cruz’s Tea Party allies still promoted efforts to expose President Obama’s birth disqualifications as commander-in-chief.
“Be a hero and not a zero and stand with We the People as we demand Obama prove his eligibility and prove it now,” stated a link.
“No more Obama fraud.”
A call to a Tea Party central number in Anaheim, Calif., and requests for interviews at the organization in Cruz’s home state of Texas, to answer question on the Republican senator’s birth origins all went unanswered.
- with files from Reuters
on Twitter: @SUNBillKaufmann