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by Sharon Rondeau

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio suspended his presidential campaign on March 15 following disappointing results in the Florida Republican primary. There remain questions as to whether or not he and Sen. Ted Cruz meet the Constitution’s “natural born Citizen” requirement to serve as president.

(Mar. 15, 2016) — After the results of primary voting in Florida were announced on Tuesday night, Senator Marco Rubio suspended his presidential campaign, having failed to win his home state.

Businessman-turned-presidential candidate Donald Trump won the state’s 99 delegates as was predicted by a number of polls leading up to today’s primary.

Prior to the elections of the “Super Tuesday II” states of Florida, North Carolina, Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, and the Northern Mariana Islands in the South Pacific, Rubio had won the Minnesota caucus, District of Columbia primary and Puerto Rico primary for a total of 163 delegates.

Rubio was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010 as a Tea Party favorite among Florida Republicans. In 2013, he was one of a group of eight senators termed the “Gang of Eight” promoting a controversial immigration reform bill which would have increased substantially the number of these is granted to foreign workers brought into the United States and allowed for a path to citizenship for many of the illegal aliens currently residing in the country.

The bill, known as S744, passed the Senate but failed to be taken up in the House of Representatives.

Prior to serving in the U.S. Senate, Rubio served as Speaker of the House in the Florida legislature.  He is an attorney and published an autobiography in 2012 titled “An American Son.”  At the time, he was identified as “one of the brightest rising stars of the Republican Party” who would “likely be on the national stage for many years to come.”

Rubio had been the preferred candidate of certain Republican politicians, former leaders and governors sometimes referred to as “the Establishment.” Former Senator Robert Dole, who sought the presidency unsuccessfully in 1996 against Bill Clinton; South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley; and former presidential candidate and U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania Rick Santorum had endorsed Rubio.

On Tuesday night, Rubio and Trump congratulated each other on their campaign accomplishments.

In the weeks preceding Tuesday’s voting, Rubio had predicted he would win his home state.

When the 2016 presidential campaign cycle began last year, a total of 17 Republican candidates with name recognition were competing for votes in primaries and caucuses which began with the Iowa caucus on February 1. With Rubio’s suspension of his campaign on Tuesday, there remain three candidates:  Ohio Governor John Kasich, Trump, and Texas U.S. Senator Ted Cruz.

The candidacies of Rubio and Cruz have been challenged by respective citizens in Florida and Illinois who claimed that neither is a “natural born Citizen,” which is required by Article II, Section 1, clause 5 of the U.S. Constitution.

Rubio was born in Florida in 1971 to parents from Cuba who naturalized when he was four years old. Historical research shows that the “natural born Citizen” clause likely included consideration of the parents’ citizenship, as in colonial days and beyond, a child’s citizenship was determined by that of his father, regardless of his birthplace.

Rep. John Bingham, considered the author of the 14th Amendment ratified in 1868, is quoted in The Congressional Globe as having described a “natural born Citizen” as a person born in the United States to U.S.-citizen parents.  The 1875 U.S. Supreme Court case of Minor v. Happersett tangentially describes the term in the same way.

Rubio has brushed off challenges to his eligibility, as has Cruz, who was born in Canada in December 1970 to a Cuban father and U.S.-citizen mother. Questions have been raised as to whether or not Eleanor Elizabeth Wilson Cruz became a Canadian citizen when her husband did, reportedly in 1973, as the couple operated a geological consulting business during the Canadian oil boom of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Cruz continues to face eligibility challenges which could culminate in a lawsuit from Democrat Rep. Alan Grayson, who promised as much should Cruz win the Republican nomination.  Grayson is seeking Rubio’s Senate seat, which Rubio said he would vacate whether or not he won the White House.

The mainstream media often refers to Rubio as a “Cuban American” without questioning whether or not that precludes him from qualifying as a “natural born Citizen.”

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