McCain Ineligible to be President? You be the Judge.

February 28, 2008

aboutmccain_picts_1.jpgThe New York Times published an article February 28, 2008 by Carl Hulse that may throw the proverbial wrench into Republican John McCain’s bid to become President of the United States. (left: photo of Senator McCain campaigning. Taken  from his website.)

McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone in 1936 to American-born parents. The Canal Zone was a Territory of the United States, not a State or even a Possession. His birthplace was a U.S. military base within the Zone.

The Constitution of the United States states that to be eligible to be President a person must be “natural born”. The exact wording is found in Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution,

“No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”

Most Constitutional experts seem to feel that McCain would win any court challenge, but clearly a challenge could prove messy and the outcome unpredictable. If it was legally challenged before or during the election it could hurt his election chances, and a challenge after his inauguration could prove disastrous for the country. What would happen if he became president, a challenge was mounted and the Supreme Court ruled against him? He would be forced to resign the presidency or be removed from office. What a shocking development that would be.

The crux of the issue relates to the definition of “natural born Citizen” in the Constitution. This would be the clause that the legal interpretation would hinge on. Several things should be in his favor in any challenge,

1) The Panama Canal Zone was a Territory of the United States. Anyone born there would likely be considered “natural born”.

2) He was born on an America military base. Surely this would be considered American soil by the court.

3) He was born to parents who were both “natural born Citizens”, that is they were born in the contiguous fifty United States of America.

If there is no challenge, at the minimum it should be clarified at some future date simply to avoid confusion. Some interesting factoids illustrate confusion that has already occurred. Fortunately, nothing major has occurred to date. However, McCain is a formidable candidate who has a very strong chance of becoming president.

  • Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona was the Republican nominee for president in the 1964 election. He was born in 1909 in the then Arizona Territory, three years before it became a state.
  • George Romney who was a presidential candidate in 1968 was born in Mexico. Sure seems to me this wouldn’t meet the criteria, but again it wasn’t tested, likely because he didn’t become the nominee of his party.
  • FDR, Jr. who once considered running was born on Campobello Island in Canada was definitely ineligible in my opinion. 
  • President Chester Arthur, whose official birthplace was Vermont, was rumored to be Canadian born. The only official proof of his place of birth is an entry in the Arthur family bible held by the Library of Congress. In fact it is very likely he was not eligible to be president. He was challenged on the issue, but never legally. See my posting in the archives of this blog which delves into that issue.
  • Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California has aspirations to be president. He was born in Germany. He has been told he is not eligible, but what about George Romney in 1968. Why was he even eligible to run when he was born in Mexico?

If a challenge is mounted this year against McCain look for a special sitting of the Supreme Court to quickly resolve the issue one way or the other. To have a major controversy develop during this important presidential election would be untenable.

Further Reading:
Constitution of the United States of America, Article II, Section 1

New York Times, February 28, 2008, Carl Hulse


Who Will Be President of the United States?

February 14, 2008

The Democratic race is still very much in doubt, but momentum seems to be with Barack Obama. The next big test is March 4th with delegates in  two key states Ohio and Texas at stake. These states both have large blocks of delegates. Should either Clinton or Obama win both of these it might decide the race. Here are the delegate standings to date from CNN Election central,

Hillary Clinton: Pledged 977, Superdelegates 234 for Total 1211

Barack Obama: Pledged 1096, Superdelegates 15 for Total 1253

Needed to Win Nomination: 2,025 (Superdelegates votes mean more than regular delegates. They could actually overrule the regular delegates. They are usually senators, congressmen, or other elected officials.) This is an extremely close race. There is a very strong possibility that the nominee will not be selected until the party convention.

For the Republicans it is very different. Senator John McCain is virtually assured of the nomination. It is only a matter of time. Here are the standings from CNN Election central,

John McCain: 801, unpledged 26 for total of 827

Mitt Romney: 286, unpledged 0 for total of 286 (Romney is now out, but has not endorsed any candidate.)

Mike Huckabee: 214, unpledged 3 for total of 217

Ron Paul: 16, unpledged 0 for total of 16

Needed to Win Nomination 1191. The Republicans do not have Superdelegates. Senator McCain’s lead is insurmountable now. He will be the nominee. He only has to select a vice presidential running mate. This will likely not be done until the convention, or until Huckabee and the others officially drop out of the race.

History will be made in Election 2008. One of the following will be historic,

1) John McCain will become the oldest person to ever become president.  McCain would be 73 years of age when inaugurated January 20, 2009 if elected.

2) Barack Obama will become the first African-American president if elected.

3) Hillary Clinton will become the first female president if elected. She would also become the first spouse of a former president to become president.

Someone recently said to me the race was boring. Far from it in my opinion.

Romney Drops Out – McCain is Likely Nominee

February 7, 2008

romney.jpgThis just in – Mitt Romney has dropped out of the Republican race for the presidential nomination. This leaves Senator John MCain of  Arizona as the probable nominee of his party. The only competition left is Mike Huckabee who has limited support.

Romney surprised everyone with his announcement because he was in second place with 286 delegates and was likely to be a strong opponent for McCain who has 714 delegates. Mitt would likely not have won the nomination in the end though, and he has done the right thing for his party by eliminating a long battle. He gave as his reason the need to unite the Republican party against the Democrats as soon as possible.

I’m sure he also saw the Democrats being weakened by a long drawn out battle for their nomination. Because of this the correct strategy is to give up a losing battle, and unite the party behind McCain.

John McCann at 72 years of age will get a chance to win the White House. If he is elected he will be the oldest president to take office. By January 2009 he will be 73 years of age. This means that at the end of his first term in January 2013 he will be 77 years old, and if he were to go two terms would be 81 by the time he left office. My message to the Republicans is this, make sure you take great care in the selection of McCain’s vice presidential running mate. This person could easily be called upon to become president. I predict that if John McCain does become president, he will be only a one-term president. That would mean that four years from now another wide open election campaign might happen.

How about Mitt Romney as McCain’s running mate? I don’t think this is likely because McCain needs the support of the conservative wing of his party and Romney is certainly not conservative.

The other possibility, of course, is that the Democrats will win the White House with either Hillary or Barack becoming the president. I still think that is the most likely outcome.

Election 2008: Super Tuesday Looms

January 30, 2008

repdemlogos.jpgHere’s an update on the 2008 race for the White House. Super Tuesday, February 5th is fast approaching and will make the race clearer or cloudier. Over 20 States are holding primaries or caucuses with large numbers of delegates at stake for the candidates of both parties.

On the Democratic side there are now only two candidates left, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. John Edwards has left the race as of today. All other candidates are out. Edwards managed to win 62 delegates and it will be interesting to see which candidate he now throws his support behind. John Edwards might make an attractive vice presidential running mate for either Hillary or Barack. This even though he was John Kerry’s running mate in the 2004 election. The present delegate standing according to CNN is:

Hillary Clinton – 232
Barack Obama – 158

For the Republicans it is a much tighter race and no-one has emerged as the dominating front-runner. Realistically  there are now only two contenders, John McCain and Mitt Romney. The delegate count from CNN is:

John McCain – 97
Mitt Romney – 74
Mike Huckabee – 29
Ron Paul – 6

The remainder of the candidates are either out of the race or have no delegates. Rudolph Giuliani is the latest to drop out of the race.

To win the nomination the magic numbers are, Democratic 2,025, and Republican 1,191. The question in the minds of political pundits is, will the nomination battle take place at the conventions, or will the nominee be decided prior to the conventions this summer? Super Tuesday will go a long way in deciding the nominations.

Mormon President? Mitt Romney

January 16, 2008

mittromneycampaign.jpgThe race for the Republican presidential nomination just heated up. Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts, won the Michigan primary yesterday and is now the delegate leader. He defeated a formible candidate in John McCann, senior Senator from Arizona. Granted Michigan is considered the “home” state of Romney, but still a big win with delegates at stake.

Willard Mitt Romney was born March 12, 1947 in Detroit, Michigan. He is the son of a famous father, George Romney, who was president and chairman of American Motors and governor of Michigan from 1963 – 1969. His father ran for president on a couple of occasions. Mitt has one brother and two sisters. He is married to Ann (nee Davies) and they have five sons.

He had a close call with death in 1966 while in France on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was driving a Citroen with five passengers. It was hit head-on by a drunk driver and he was thrown from the vehicle. It was thought that he had died, but it was an identity mix-up and in fact one of his passengers had been killed.

Mitt’s education consists of a B.A. from Brigham Young University (1971) and an MBA, JD from Harvard University, Law School (1975). He founded his own company, Bain Capital, a venture and investment firm in 1984. Today he is financially independent and a successful businessman and politician.

His political career began when he ran unsuccessfully as the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts against none other than Ted Kennedy. We shouldn’t count that one. Kennedys and Massachusetts, well they go hand in hand.

Next he took over as the president and CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee of the 2002 Winter Olympics. At the time it was mired in controversy. He successfully got the event back on track and it ended up making money.

Mitt was elected governor of Massachusetts in 2002, but did not seek a second term in 2006 when he was up for re-election. He officially declared himself a candidate for president in January 2007 and is considered to be one of the leading candidates.

The one thing that he is battling in his campaign is his religious affiliation and the public perception of it. You see he is of the Mormon (or Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) faith. While he was living in Belmont, Massachusetts he was bishop of the Cambridge congregation, then bishop of Belmont, and in 1986 became president of the Boston-area “stake” (analogy is a diocese).

Mitt is facing the same battle that John Kennedy fought in his campaign of 1960, separation of church and state, and voter perception of religion. John Kennedy is still the only person of the Roman Catholic faith to have ever been elected to the Presidency. Can Mitt Romney become the first Mormon to be elected president? Religious affiliation is not a criteria in the Constitution of the United States for being President, nor should it be. Mitt like Kennedy before him needs to clearly demonstrate that he believes in the separation of church and state.

By the way one of the biggest misconceptions of the Mormon church is that they condone and encourage polygamy. This is totally false. It is true that in the faith’s early years the practice was encouraged and allowed, but for over one hundred years now polygamy has been illegal and forbidden within the mainstream Mormon faith.

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