Iowa radio host Steve Deace defended Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-TX) eligibility to be president after some of Cruz's 2016 presidential opponents questioned the constitutionality of a Cruz presidency because of his Canadian birth. While Deace dismissed those questioning Cruz, the radio host played an active role in promoting similar “birther” conspiracy theories surrounding President Obama.
During a January 6 interview with Senator Cruz, Deace sought to dismiss GOP rivals' doubts that Cruz is eligible to be president because he was born to an American citizen living in Canada. “It's like there is no factual amount of evidence that can be presented to the contrary when people get this issue stuck in their craw,” said Deace. While Deace is quick to agree with legal experts that Cruz is eligible to hold office, he denied overwhelming evidence that President Obama was eligible to be president after his election.
In 2009 Deace provided a platform for some of the most notorious birther conspiracy theorists to promote their unfounded ideas surrounding Obama's presidential eligibility. As the Iowa Independent reported, Deace dedicated significant time to the birther issue as well as hosting several conspiracy theorists including Drew Zahn of leading birther website WND (formerly WorldNetDaily) and Orly Taitz, who filed several lawsuits against President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden in an effort to stop Obama's presidency:
Conspiracy theorists claiming President Barack Obama is not a United States citizen were granted an hour of drive-time radio Friday to lay out the “evidence” by Christian radio host Steve Deace.
Deace discussed the issue with Drew Zahn, editor of the conspiracy theory Web site World Net Daily, who said that while his cohorts have been “ridiculed and mocked” for continuing to follow the story, it simply won't go away.
“We're catching heat from almost every direction,” Zahn said.
Zahn and Deace started off blasting the “mainstream media” for not fully investigating an issue that deals with whether “we're going to follow the Constitution at its most basic level.”
The pair then attempted to debunk any evidence produced that may contradict their theory -- including a certificate of live birth and newspapers accounts at the time -- ultimately concluding all materials could be easily obtained fraudulently or easily fabricated.
Deace discussed the issue once before in January, when he interviewed the birther movement's most high profile advocate, Orly Taitz, a woman news site Politico describes as “the Russian-born attorney/dentist who has become a kind of ringleader for the movement.” Among other things, Taitz has become famous of late for encouraging soldiers to disobey orders from a president who is “ineligible to serve as commander-in-chief of U.S Armed Forces.”
Deace also contributed to the conspiracy by writing commentary on WND ranting against Obama, who he referred to as Barry Soetoro -- a name referring to Obama's stepfather's surname, which he used temporarily while living in Indonesia. Birther theory supporters falsely claim Obama used the Soetoro name on a Columbia University student ID, proving his foreign citizenship. Deace also defended WND by sharing its birther articles as mainstream media outlets like CNN denounced their conspiracy theories.
In 2012, Deace continued his affiliation with birtherism by referring to Obama as a “Kenyan” and “foreigner” :
For the past four years we've called Obama every name in the book - Marxist, socialist, Kenyan, Muslim, heretic, divider-in-chief, infanticidist, traitor, amateur and foreigner (just to name to few) - and even though some of those are actually true, the really inconvenient truth is that if the election were held today Obama would most assuredly be re-elected.
Deace also appeared on MSNBC's The Ed Show in May of 2012 to discuss the birther movement in Iowa. During the interview Deace never denied his support of the conspiracy theories, but sought to change the subject while speaking to the more mainstream outlet -- a well-known tactic of the radio host -- while pushing the idea that birtherism is just a “clash of world views” (emphasis added):
ED SCHULTZ (HOST): Steve, this is not a world view. These are facts. Steve, respectfully, these are facts. There are facts that back up that President Obama is an American citizen, he loves the country, he was born -- he has got all the documentation. Why is this an issue? Krystal, you can see just from his answers that this is where they [Republicans] are.
SCHULTZ: I mean when you have a state party talking about putting it on the platform, how much more radical can you get? I mean they do not want to accept this president.
SCHULTZ: Why aren`t the Democrats asking for Mitt Romney`s birth certificate? I mean, his dad was born in Mexico. I mean, how do we know?
CHRIS KOFINIS (DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST): You know why, because --
DEACE: Here`s what I think --
SCHULTZ: Go ahead, Steve.
DEACE: I think if unemployment -- I think if unemployment was at five percent, I think if the president had lived up to his campaign promises on turning the economy around, we probably wouldn`t be talking about this issue right now. But when you`ve got to run on the economic record, you`ve got to change the subject to stuff like this.
SCHULTZ: Well, not really. He`s got 26 months of private sector job growth. He`s saved the automobile industry, and he's added 4 million jobs. I mean, the guy is not superman. He is just president of the United States, and those are three facts right there that are --
DEACE: Ed, there must be a lot of stupid people. There must be a lot of stupid people, then, Ed, in your own NBC news poll. Because if you look at the cross-tabs on the economy in your own poll that came out yesterday, it doesn`t appear that they see things the same way you do --
SCHULTZ: That`s a messaging issue, there's no doubt -
DEACE: At best he has a 50/50 chance --
SCHULTZ: That`s -- he has added four million jobs. He has saved millions of jobs because of the turnaround of the automobile industry, and 26 months of private sector job growth. Those are three facts right now, whether it`s polled or not --
SCHULTZ: Your party in Iowa wants to put birtherism on the platform instead of talk about creating jobs. I`m out of time.
BALL: We`re not the ones that --
DEACE: What cracks me up is its considered radical that someone shows the same identification --
Deace's defense of Cruz against some of the same criticisms he used against Obama comes as no surprise as the radio host has been working overtime to push the Texas senator to victory in Iowa. His personal investment in Cruz, which includes creating a campaign ad, prepping him for debates, and promoting him on social media, has prevented him from acknowledging the hypocrisy of his birther stance.