The all new
CBS News App for Android® for iPad® for iPhone®
Fully redesigned. Featuring CBSN, 24/7 live news. Get the App

Rand Paul: "Extraordinary" to have a president born outside the U.S.

Weighing on the controversy over whether Canadian-born Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz is eligible to be president, his fellow senator Rand Paul said Sunday that it would be "extraordinary" to have a president born outside of the U.S.

"He would be the first president not born in the United States. And so that alone would be extraordinary. And so people have to decide for their own minds whether it makes a difference where someone is born," he said on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday.

Rival presidential candidate Donald Trump began raising questions last week about whether he is eligible to run for president since he was born in Calgary, Canada, to an American mother and Cuban father. Cruz renounced his Canadian citizenship in 2014 and released his mother's birth certificate Saturday to prove she was born in the U.S. and allay concerns about his qualifications.

The Constitution says that only "natural-born citizens" can be president, but it does not clearly define the term. Most legal scholars argue that a natural-born citizen is one who does not have to be naturalized -- that is, someone born outside the U.S. who fulfills the requirements in the Immigration and Nationality Act in order to attain U.S. citizenship. Still, it's a legal question that has never been answered because the Supreme Court has never ruled on the issue.

Paul predicted Sunday that Democrats would challenge Cruz's eligibility and that it would ultimately have to be decided by the Supreme Court.

"It's hasn't been decided," he said.

Paul's own presidential campaign has been suffering from a lack of momentum, and he notched just 5 percent support in an NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll of likely Iowa caucus goers released Sunday. But he predicted he will do well on caucus day, pointing to the fact that his campaign just announced 1,000 precinct chairs for the caucus.

"We think we may well be the most organized campaign in Iowa. And that's somewhat unheralded if you watch the polls," Paul said. "But really a caucus is about turning your people out. It's calling them, getting them out."

In particular, he said, he set a goal of turning out 10,000 college students, who made up a key part of his father's support during previous presidential campaigns.

Paul says he's on the right side of a disconnect between Republicans in Washington and the grass roots, pointing his staunch refusal to raise the debt ceiling without significant budgetary reform or increasing military spending despite budget caps currently in place.

He argued that the way to fix the disconnect in politics is by instituting term limits.

"I think if you had that, all of a sudden people would be more enthused. And I think that's why the Republican electorate is looking for outsiders because they're tired basically of everybody in Washington saying, 'oh, we can't do anything,'" he said.

"We have the power of the purse we're not using it. We control the House, we control the Senate and we're not using that power," Paul added.

This week, the Senate is going to bring up a piece of legislation he sponsored on auditing the Federal Reserve, a key platform of his campaign.

"I think some income inequality is really related to Fed policy," he said when asked to explain why it should matter to ordinary people. "I also think our major recession in 2008 was caused by the Fed by keeping interest rates below the market rate. The housing boom was stimulated. But then there was no reaction to slowing down the housing boom by interest rates raising."

Paul said he wants to know how the Fed is doing, who they are lending money to, and whether any of their assets are still troubled.

"It's oversight. It's transparency," he said. He also noted the support of 100 Democrats when the bill passed the House, saying it is bipartisan legislation.

  • Rebecca Kaplan

    Rebecca Kaplan is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.