Cruz says citizenship talk evidence of ‘silly season’

(CNN) — The newfound attention to Sen. Ted Cruz’s citizenship is merely evidence of the “silly season in politics,” the Texas Republican said Tuesday.

Speaking to CNN’s Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley, Cruz said he didn’t mind answering the questions about where he was born and where he’s a citizen. However, he said, the question of whether he’s eligible to be president is better left to legal experts.

“If you don’t have anything to hide, there’s no big deal,” said Cruz, who was born in Canada to an American mother and a Cuban father. His full sit-down interview will air Sunday’s “State of the Union” at 9 a.m. ET and 12 p.m. ET on CNN.

“My mother was a U.S. citizen by birth — born in Wilmington, Delaware. So under U.S. law, I’m an American citizen,” he continued, explaining that he moved to Texas when he was age 4, and lived in Houston for most of his childhood.

“It’s always been my home,” he said. “And when I was a kid, my mom always told me that if I wanted to, I could affirmatively choose to claim Canadian citizenship. But I got a U.S. passport when I was in high school, I never did anything to claim citizenship, and I thought that was the end of the matter.”

But that wasn’t the end. After a report this weekend in The Dallas Morning News, which cited legal experts saying Cruz’s birthplace makes him a dual U.S.-Canada citizen, the senator declared he was ending any Canadian citizenship he may hold – though the actual process of renouncing Canadian citizenship involves a four-page application and a $100 fee.

In the interview Tuesday, Cruz explained his reasoning.

“Serving as a U.S. senator – I was an American by birth, and serving as a U.S. senator, I think it’s appropriate I be only an American,” he said.

But Cruz’s renunciation of his Canadian citizenship has led to more speculation about a potential run for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination. Asked during a news conference Tuesday whether he thought he was eligible, Cruz deferred to other experts.

“The Constitution has its requirements. What I’ve said on this issue – I’ll lay out the facts, where I was born and who my parents are, and I’ll leave it to others to worry about it,” he said. “I’m not going to speculate about legal consequences.”

Cruz was in Houston on Tuesday pushing his goal of defunding President Barack Obama’s health care law. The event was part of a week-long tour sponsored by the conservative Heritage Foundation that features Cruz’s father, Rafael Cruz, as a headliner.

He was interrupted three times by hecklers during his remarks, though each time Cruz allowed the protesters to speak before continuing his anti-Obamacare address. The final heckler was drowned out by chants of “USA” from the crowd.

Cruz, along with fellow Republican Sens. Marco Rubio and Mike Lee, has said he’ll not support a measure to continue financing the government if it includes funding for Obamacare. The current measure keeping the government funded expires September 30.

Some Republicans contest that tactic won’t work, and will instead alienate some Obamacare opponents.

But Cruz, speaking at the news conference Tuesday, argued now was the time Republicans have the most leverage in their bid to get rid of the president’s health care law.

“I believe that now is the best time we have to defund Obamacare,” he said. “It’s clear the wheels are coming off.”

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