- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 10, 2016

Businessman Donald Trump on Sunday said he’s got the momentum to win the GOP presidential nomination regardless of whether he finishes first in Iowa and again questioned his top rival’s eligibility for the office.

Mr. Trump already has set the tone for a topsy-turvy nominating race, but that’s not good enough for him. He said his efforts would be a total waste if he doesn’t take the White House.

“I really feel that if I don’t win I can’t make the difference,” Mr. Trump told NBC’s Meet the Press. “We’re not going to bring back trade. We’re not going to straighten out our military. We’re not going to get rid of Obamacare and come up with a real health care plan.”

Mr. Trump has led the GOP field for months but is in a horse race with Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, for the Feb. 1 contest in Iowa, and he might come up short.

Mr. Cruz leads Mr. Trump by four points among likely caucus-goers, 28 percent to 24 percent, according to a NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll released Sunday.

“I hope I win Iowa. If I don’t win, I mean, you know, that can also happen,” he said. “And I go right to New Hampshire, where we’re doing great. I go right to South Carolina, where we’re doing great. We go into Nevada where we’re leading big.”

SEE ALSO: Bernie Sanders changes course, attacks Hillary Clinton directly but politely

In the meantime, Mr. Trump is raising questions about Mr. Cruz’s eligibility for the presidency because he was born in Canada.

Many scholars believe Mr. Cruz is a “natural-born citizen” because he was born to an American mother. Others, particularly some of Mr. Cruz’s GOP rivals for president, say it’s still an open question.

“I’m only saying that Ted has to get this problem solved because if he’s running against a Democrat, and they bring a lawsuit, he’s got a hell of a thing over his head,” Mr. Trump told Fox News Sunday.

The businessman insisted he was only responding to questions in the media, and not needling Mr. Cruz under the guise of wanting to help him down the road.

“I’m not trolling,” he said.

While it is a trifling topic for some, the issue has amused liberals who felt Hawaii-born President Obama had been unfairly attacked by Mr. Trump and other “birthers” who demanded to see his birth certificate. It’s also forced other Republicans to weigh in.

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, said Mr. Cruz is obviously a U.S. citizen, but the Constitution’s call for a “natural born” candidate could pose an open legal question for Mr. Cruz, should he become the nominee. He said the Supreme Court may have to settle the issue if Democrats sue.

“He would be the first president not born in the United States, and so that alone would be extraordinary,” Mr. Paul told CBS’s Face the Nation.

Mr. Cruz said Sunday the law is straightforward, and he won’t engage in personal attacks with other candidates. He cast the recent barbs as a badge of honor.

“Three weeks ago, almost every Republican candidate was attacking Donald Trump,” he told CNN’s State of the Union. “Today, almost every Republican candidate is attacking me. And that kind of suggests maybe something has changed in the race.”

The Senate passed a resolution in 2008 to declare then-nominee Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican who was born in the Panama Canal Zone, a “natural born citizen” eligible for the presidency.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican who’s frequently sparred with Mr. Cruz, said he doesn’t want to wade into the race this time around.

“I just don’t think the Senate ought to get into the middle of this,” he told ABC’s This Week. “These guys will all slug it out in Iowa and New Hampshire. We’ll have a nominee hopefully by sometime in the spring.”

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