Trump Spreads ‘Baseless’ Birther Theory About Nikki Haley

( – According to average polling from January 11 on FiveThirtyEight, former UN Ambassador and GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley is closing the gap between her and former President Donald Trump in New Hampshire. Her popularity in the state began to soar toward the end of 2023 and hasn’t stopped, giving her 29.6% of the vote to Trump’s 41.4%. Seemingly to widen that gap before the primary on Super Tuesday, the former president made a false claim against his opponent on his social media platform.

What Happened?

On January 8, Trump shared a post by The Gateway Pundit, claiming that Haley was disqualified from becoming president or vice president because her parents were not United States citizens when she was born. According to NBC News, the false “birther” claim is nothing new for the former president, as he previously launched the same type of attack against former President Barack Obama (D) and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX).

As detailed in the United States Constitution, the only qualifications set forth by the country’s forefathers are that the person has to be a natural-born citizen, at least 35 years old, and has lived in the US for at least 14 years. As such, Haley meets those qualifications, regardless of the immigration status of her parents at the time of her birth. She was born on American soil in South Carolina, giving her automatic citizenship.

Haley’s Background and Response

According to The State, both of Haley’s parents immigrated from India. Her father became a naturalized US citizen in 1978 — six years after she was born — and her mother followed in 2003. Trump and a host of others, including former GOP presidential candidates Chris Christie, Cruz, and Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), previously stated that they oppose birthright citizenship. Still, the 14th Amendment’s Citizenship Clause disagrees. It states all persons born…in the United States…are citizens of the United States.”

Harvard Law School professor emeritus Laurance Tribe responded to the birther claims about Haley. He said in an email they were “totally baseless as a legal and constitutional matter.” Tribe wondered what the former president hoped to gain by sharing the story on Truth Social. He guessed that perhaps he was “play[ing] the race card” against a former governor, ambassador, and “woman of color” to gain favor with voters who have an “anti-immigrant prejudice” by pointing out that her parents were not born in the US.

Neither Haley nor her campaign formally responded to Trump’s post.

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