Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) was called out on Friday for an apparent double standard regarding the presidential eligibility of party colleague Sen. Ted Cruz compared to President Barack Obama in a combative interview with MSNBC host Chris Matthews, refusing to support Obama’s election as legitimate while promoting Cruz as a viable future candidate..
“He’s as eligible as Obama is,” Farenthold said of Cruz.
“Well, what does that mean?” a flustered Matthews asked to follow up.
“Obama’s president, Ted Cruz can be president,” Farenthold answered, which seemed to anger Matthews.
“This is serious business, Congressman,” Matthews protested. “You’re chuckling about this. Is he eligible to be president or not? You’ve been touting the guy, you said he could run for president — explain.”
Earlier in the interview, Farenthold brushed off the attacks against Cruz coming from within their own party, suggesting to Matthews that some of his critics are positioning themselves against Cruz for a run at their presidential nomination. Cruz has drawn the ire of House Republicans for allegedly laying the fight to defund the Affordable Care Act at their door after spending his summer campaigning against it.
After Farenthold finally said he believed Cruz was eligible to run for president, Matthews pressed on, asking whether he thought the same of Obama “even if that crazy theory of Donald Trump is true.”
“We’re talking about Ted Cruz,” Farenthold answered, seemingly deflecting the question.
“Can’t you project an inch, mentally?” Matthews asked.
“I’m telling you that President Obama is the president,” Farenthold said. “If he’s eligible to be president, Ted Cruz is.”
“Was he legitimately elected president?” Matthews responded.
“I wasn’t in Congress to make that determination,” Farenthold said. “That was determined before I got here.”
When Matthews asked him to repeat the statement, “he was legitimately elected president,” Farenthold omitted “legitimately” from his response, prompting Matthews to accuse him of “dodge balling.”
“Everybody watching knows what you’re doing,” Matthews warned.
Watch the interview, as aired on MSNBC on Friday, below.