The McCain campaign is going to have no interest in releasing his birth certificate.

It's not because it will once again reinforce his age--the certificate would not change the significance, or obviousness, of that issue.

It's because one of the candidates running for President actually wasn't born in the United States.  Though it's not exactly a secret, John McCain has done a good job keeping the public at large from catching on that he was born in Panama.

Don' believe me?  Check out the Washington Post, or John McCain's remarks from 2003 as recorded at the US Embassy of Panama:

Taped Remarks by U.S. Senator John McCain
July 4, 2003

I'd like to congratulate the Panamanian government and people on their hundredth anniversary. A nation that was born in conflict and now lives in peace. We are proud of our relationship and I am proud to say that I was born in your country.I am convinced that the prospects for our relations will continue to improve over the years as you also have as part of your country one of the most magnificent feats of engineering that the world has ever seen. I know that you will take good care of it. I look forward to seeing you soon.

(emphasis mine)

"Everyone knows" there are only two requirements to be President of the US: to be older than 35 (check) and to be born in the US.  So what is McCain's defense?

At the time, McCain was born on a US military base, his parents were US military, and the Panama Canal Zone was an unincorporated US territory.  Is this enough?

Here's what the US Department of State's Citizenship Primer has to say:

Page 6:

Despite widespread popular belief, U.S. military installations abroad and U.S. diplomatic or consular facilities are not part of the United States within the meaning of the 14th Amendment. A child born on the premises of such a facility is not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States and does not acquire U.S. citizenship by reason of birth.

Page 5:

FAM 1116.1-1 States and Incorporated Territories
(TL:CON-64; 11-30-95)
a. The phrase "in the United States" as used in the 14th Amendment clearly includes States that have been admitted to the Union. Sections 304 and 305 of the INA provide a basis for citizenship of persons born in Alaska and Hawaii while they were territories of the United States. These sections reflect, to a large extent, prior statutes and judicial decisions which addressed the l4th Amendment citizenship implications of birth in these and other U.S. territories. Guidance on evidence on such births should be sought from CA/OCS.
b. Sec. 101(a)(38) INA provides that, for the purposes of the INA, The term "United States",... when used in the geographical sense, means the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands of the United States.In addition, under Pub. L. 94-241, the "approving Covenant to Establish a Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in Political Union with the United States of America", (Sec. 506(c)), which took effect on November 3, 1986, the Northern Mariana Islands are treated as part of the United States for the purposes of sections 301 and 308 of the INA.
c. All of the aforenamed areas, except Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, came within the definition of "United States" given in the Nationality Act of 1940, which was effective from January 13, 1941 through December 23, 1952.
d. Prior to January 13, 1941, there was no statutory definition of "the United States" for citizenship purposes. Thus there were varying interpretations. Guidance should be sought from the Department (CA/OCS) when such issues arise.

(emphasis mine)

It appears that McCain's eligibility to be president is not beyond question--it is precisely a case like his (born in an unincorporated territory before 1941) which requires "guidance" from the State department.

Even if McCain believes he can put together a legal case that he is eligible (based on the Constitutional ambiguity in "natural born citizen"), you can be sure he does not want Americans discussing the fact that he was proud to be born in another country.  So don't expect to see his birth certificate in circulation anytime soon.

Update:  you might notice I did not label this "BREAKING".  Kossacks and other very political junkies may know this.  But when I talk to people who I don't know by political association, I've never met a single one who knew this.  McCain doesn't exactly trumpet it on his website.  An extended MSM "let's compare Birth Certificates" campaign would absolutely be a bombshell to McCain's campaign, even if he ultimately wins any legal case on presidential eligibility.  The optics of explaining quotes like "I am proud to say I was born in your country" are much more problematic than the legal jeopardy.

:  There are many comments that seem to be under the impression that I make the case McCain is ineligible for President.  I do not believe he is ineligible, I am only making the case that it is not beyond question.  I agree that it is very unlikely he would be declared ineligible.  Many point to actions of Congress of 2008 and 1790. But given that TODAY the supreme  court declared an act of Congress unconstitutional, and that the 1790 congress had some of its rulings overruled, I will say that it's not obvious to me that an act of Congress settles a Constitutional issue.   I fail to see anything dishonest in noting that McCain was born there, has said he's proud to have been, and that there may be some questions about this.

There are also a number of comments suggesting that being born in Panama could actually help McCain because he was born on a military base.   This is a legitimate quarrel with what I said, because I did say it.  I'll just say I believe that John McCain has already tapped out the "He's a military guy" vote.  It's his entire raison d'etre for being a candidate.  I believe this could only be a net negative for him.  I suspect the effect would be small--maybe a quarter of a percent.

A lot of people have also commented that "there are better reasons to be against John McCain".  Well, of course there are.  But I think we throw away factually correct and honest lines of attack at our own peril.  

Originally posted to andyfoland on Thu Jun 12, 2008 at 02:49 PM PDT.

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