February 28, 2008 / 7:32 PM / 12 years ago

CORRECTED: McCain says meets Constitution presidency rules

Corrects third paragraph to say Olson asked, not hired by campaign.

By Andy Sullivan

DALLAS (Reuters) - Republican candidate John McCain said on Thursday he was sure he was constitutionally qualified to be president even though he was not born in a U.S. state.

“I have absolutely no concern about that,” McCain, who was born in the Panama Canal Zone, told reporters.

The U.S. Constitution says any president must be a “natural born citizen” of the United States. The McCain campaign has asked conservative lawyer Ted Olson to research whether he may face any legal barriers.

The Panama Canal Zone was under U.S. control when McCain was born there in 1936. His father was stationed in the zone while serving with the U.S. Navy. McCain said his staff researched the question when he ran for president in 2000.

“It’s very clear that an American born in a territory of the United States, whose father is serving in the military, would not be eligible for the presidency of the United States is certainly not something our founding fathers envisioned,” said the Arizona senator, who is expected to win the Republican nomination for the November election.

Another Arizona senator who ran for president encountered the same question. Republican Barry Goldwater, the party’s 1964 nominee, was born in Arizona in 1909, before it became a state. Goldwater lost the election in a landslide to Democrat Lyndon Johnson.

The constitutional birth requirement prevents some prominent U.S. politicians from seeking the presidency, including California Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was born a citizen of Austria, and Michigan Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who was born a citizen of Canada.

Editing by Jackie Frank

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