The battle for the soul of Republican conservatism elevated in recent days as Ted Cruz came under attack from members of his own party over the issue of his Canadian birth, saying it disqualifies him to serve as President. As a result, a number of conservative leaders and commentators have sparked a backlash towards the "conservative" attackers, citing their instigation of political strife for their personal and political gain.
The problems started when Donald Trump openly questioned whether Cruz was a "natural born citizen," because of his Canadian birth. While both Constitutional and legal scholars are nearly unanimous in their opinion that Cruz is a natural born citizen because his mother was a U.S. citizen, a small but vocal minority insists otherwise.
After the controversy exploded, Trump tried to downplay his role, and insisted he was merely answering a reporter's question, but as USA Today reported, Trump openly speculated about Cruz's eligibility with several different media outlets on Tuesday and Wednesday, rather than dismissing the issue. With Cruz now leading him in Iowa, Trump certainly has much to gain by hitting Cruz as ineligible to be President. "That’d be a big problem," he told the Washington Post. "You don’t want to be running and have that kind of thing over your head.”
John McCain inflamed the issue by questioning Cruz's eligibility. “I think there is a question," McCain said in a radio interview. "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.” McCain has long feuded with Cruz, at one point calling politicians like him "wacko birds."
Even Ann Coulter has jumped on the birther bandwagon by tweeting out that Cruz was ineligible. Her anti-Cruz sentiment is not surprising, considering she has openly supported Trump for some time. Coulter's conservative reputation has taken a hit recently, especially after openly criticizing Jews and Israel. Worse yet, Coulter has been exposed as a hypocrite on the birther issue, after it was revealed that she defended Cruz's citizenship as recently as 2013. Here are the contradictory tweets:
Trump's attack on Cruz has led many conservative media notables to defend the Texas senator. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, and Mark Levin have all come to Cruz's defense. “A genuine conservative, even in the Republican field, would not go after Cruz this way. So that just raised a red flag for me,” Limbaugh said on his radio show.
“I think there’s gonna be a difference in attacking Ted Cruz,” Sean Hannity told his listening audience. “I’m not so sure that same strategy is going to be efficient as he’s going up against a strong conservative in the field.”
On the campaign trail, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, and Jeb Bush have all backed Cruz, saying his citizenship is a non-issue. Mitt Romney has also come out defending Cruz, saying he is indeed eligible to run.
Even on Republican and Tea Party Facebook groups, where Trump has enjoyed his share of support, criticism has grown considerably, with many commentators questioning whether Trump is truly conservative.