What Being "Natural Born" Really Means

POOL/ Reuters

In BusinessWeek today, New America Vice President and Editorial Director Andrés Martinez debunks the notion that you must be born in the USA to be president, and argues that naturalized citizens should be eligible to run for the nation's highest office. First, though, he translates the constitution's actual requirements for a presidential run:

"You do need to have been American at birth—as opposed to a naturalized citizen —but both English common law (the lingua franca of the Founding Fathers) and subsequent U.S. statutory law make clear that you can be born a citizen to an American parent who happens to be overseas.

This often-overlooked distinction explains why George Romney, Mitt’s father and former governor of Michigan, was a viable candidate for President in 1968, despite his having been born in Mexico to American parents. So was John McCain, who was born on a military base in the Panama Canal Zone. The next great hope for “natural born” Americans born abroad may be Tea Party favorite Ted Cruz, the newly elected Republican senator from Texas, who was born in Canada to a Cuban father and an American mother. Should Cruz someday launch a Presidential run, he could help to clear up this widespread misunderstanding about the eligibility requirements for our highest office. (He would also turn ardent liberals into crazed birthers and cause the right-wing fringe to go all cosmopolitan on us.)"

Why was everyone so confused over the "natural born" clause in the first place?

Read more here.