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John McCain: "I Don't Know" If Cruz Is Eligible For Presidency With Canadian Birth

McCain, the Republican nominee in 2008, was born in the Panama Canal Zone when it was a U.S. territory.

Posted on January 6, 2016, at 8:28 p.m. ET

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Arizona Sen. John McCain said he doesn't know if the Canadian-born Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas is eligible to be president, saying the Supreme Court might have to decide if Cruz is eligible to be president.

"I don't know the answer to that," said McCain on the Chris Merrill Show on KFYI550 on Wednesday of Cruz's eligibility. "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. Barry Goldwater was born in Arizona when it was a territory when he ran in 1964."

Cruz was a U.S. citizen at birth; his mother was a U.S. citizen living in Canada at the time.

In an interview with the Washington Post on Tuesday, Donald Trump said Ted Cruz's Canadian birth would be a "big problem" for the Republican Party. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul added on Wednesday that he was not sure if Cruz was eligible to be president of the United States either. (Both men previously had said it was not an issue.)

"Yeah, it was a U.S. military base," continued McCain about his own birth. "That's different from being born on foreign soil, so I think there is a question. 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."

"I would think so," McCain added, when asked if Cruz should try to get ahead of eligibility issues, saying he got ahead of questions about his birth in the Canal Zone.

"It may be, that may be the case," McCain said of the Supreme Court deciding the meaning of being a "natural-born" citizen.

McCain has long been critical of Cruz.

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