"I don't think it's illegitimate to look into it," John McCain says of Ted Cruz's citizenship
Credit: Pier Marco Tacca/Getty

John McCain is throwing some support behind Donald Trump‘s speculation that the Canadian-born Ted Cruz might not be eligible to run for president.

“I think there is a question. I’m not a constitutional scholar on that, but I think it’s worth looking into,” McCain said of his longtime nemesis’ citizenship in an interview with Phoenix CBS affiliate KFYI. “I don’t think it’s illegitimate to look into it.”

Trump told The Washington Post on Tuesday that Republicans could be in a “very precarious” situation if they choose the Texas senator as the GOP nominee for president.

“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 said. “It’d be a very precarious one for Republicans because he’d be running and the courts may take a long time to make a decision. You don’t want to be running and have that kind of thing over your head.”

“I’d hate to see something like that get in his way,” Trump added. “But a lot of people are talking about it and I know that even some states are looking at it very strongly, the fact that he was born in Canada and he has had a double passport.”

Cruz, who was born in Canada to an American mother and a Cuban father, renounced his Canadian citizenship last year after questions were raised over his eligibility to become president. He responded to Trump’s comments on Twitter Tuesday by posting an iconic Happy Days clip in which Fonzie “jumps the shark.”

The Texas senator, a constitutional scholar himself who has risen in recent Republican presidential polls, responded more directly on Wednesday, telling reporters: “People will continue to make political noise about it, but as a legal matter, it’s quite straightforward.”

But McCain’s remarks lend some mainstream legitimacy to what could be dismissed as just another Trump attack on one of his presidential rivals – and Trump seems to know it.

He tweeted Thursday, “It was a very wise move that Ted Cruz renounced his Canadian citizenship 18 months ago. Senator John McCain is certainly no friend of Ted!”

While the birth question was a huge headache for President Obama – and for McCain, who, because of his birth on a U.S. military base in the Panama Canal Zone, got the Senate to pass a resolution confirming his eligibility for the presidency in 2008 – the rest of this year’s field should be free and clear. Trump was born in Queens, New York; Hillary Clinton was a Chicago, Illinois, baby; Marco Rubio was born in Miami, Florida, to Cuban immigrants; Jeb Bush took his first breath in Midland, Texas; Bernie Sanders was born in Brooklyn, New York; Carly Fiorina in Austin, Texas; Chris Christie in Newark, New Jersey; and Ben Carson in Detroit, Michigan.

And let’s not forget Pennsylvania babies Rand Paul (Pittsburgh) or John Kasich (McKees Rocks).

As for Cruz, it seems he won’t be getting much support from the Republican party in this birther debate du jour.

Ann Coulter said it was “absolutely false” that the Texas Republican was a natural-born citizen.

Trump offered some “free legal advice” on Twitter, telling Cruz to seek a declaratory judgment from a federal court to get to the bottom of the issue.

And Paul argued that Cruz was eligible – to be prime minister of Canada.

Washington Post blogger James Hohmann summed it up best when he wrote, “This is what happens when your Senate colleagues, especially the Republicans, hate you.”