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Donald Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said on Thursday that his candidate would be “happy” to debate Ted Cruz once the Texas senator gets a federal judge to rule him eligible to run for president.

“Once you’ve gotten that ruling from the federal judge and you’re the last man standing in this presidential contest next to Donald Trump, we’ll be happy to have a debate with you one-on-one, anywhere you want, because that’s the way the system works,” Lewandowski said. “But, as it stands right now, we don’t even know if Ted Cruz is legally eligible to run for president of the United States.”

Amazing as it may seem, it’s in fact true, and in a non-trivial sense, that “we don’t even know if Ted Cruz is legally eligible to run for president of the United States.”

Cruz’s problems here are multiple. First, U.S. federal courts can’t legally issue advisory opinions, so it’s not as if Cruz can just ask the court system to clear up the legal status of his campaign for POTUS. The question can only be resolved through litigation.

Second, it’s far from clear — a phrase that keeps coming up in this context — who is even qualified (“has standing” in law talk) to bring a suit that could, in theory, resolve the matter in time to help Cruz out of the jurisprudential pickle in which he now finds himself.

Third, the real significance of all this is that the Trump campaign merely needs to keep raising doubts in voters’ minds over the next few weeks regarding the — again, legitimate, incredibly enough — question of whether Cruz is legally eligible for the presidency, in order to accomplish Trump’s practical goal of undermining Cruz’s campaign at the margin.

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of this fiasco is how few people, including most especially Cruz’s own camp, seem to have anticipated that Cruz’s foreign birth could be a genuine legal-political problem.

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