Talking Points Memo: TN Dem: Debate Over Cruz 'Highlighted' Eligibility Issue Addressed In New Bill

Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman Jeff Yarbro introduced legislation that would prohibit the secretary of state from placing any presidential candidate who is not a "natural born citizen" on the Tennessee ballot.

Senator Jeff Yarbro, one of the bill's sponsors, told TPM on Friday that the bill "isn't about any one candidate," but said that the questions surrounding Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-TX) "highlighted" the issue for him.

"Certainly the debate that we’ve seen in the last few weeks about whether Sen. Cruz’s birth in Canada affects his eligibility highlighted this issue for us," he told TPM when asked if Cruz's birth motivated him to introduce the bill.

Yarbro said that now that it has become an issue in the Republican primary, this bill "ensures that the issue is settled" before the general election in November.

He said that he is not taking a position on the definition of "natural born citizen," but noted that "scholars have weighed in on both sides."

"It certainly appears that there’s a division of opinion on that issue," he told TPM.

The state senator was unsure whether his fellow legislators will back his bill, but said he thinks "it's hard to argue against the Tennessee ballot adhering to the Constitution’s requirements for the presidency."


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