John McCain's Birthplace
"John McCain, widely reported to have been born in the Panama Canal Zone in the Coco Solo Naval Hospital, COULD NOT have been born in Coco Solo Hospital and probably wasn't born in the Canal Zone at all."
--News Busters blog, Feb. 21, 2008.
Some bloggers are questioning John McCain's right to run for the presidency on the basis of his birth in the Panama Canal Zone. They have produced "evidence" showing that that the hospital where the Arizona senator says he was born was not built until 1941--five years after McCain's birth. A review of the archival record shows that there was a small hospital at the Coco Solo submarine base in 1936 and also reveals the name of the U.S. Navy physician who signed McCain's birth certificate.
I dealt with the constitutional debate on whether McCain is a "natural born citizen" in a previous post. (According to the Constitution, only "natural born citizens" have the right to run for the presidency.") The senator bases his eligibility claim on the fact that he was (1) born on a military base in the Panama Canal Zone at a time when it was effectively under U.S. sovereignty and (2) both of his parents were U.S. citizens.
As I reported earlier, the McCain campaign has declined to publicly release the senator's birth certificate. But a senior campaign official showed me a copy of his birth certificate issued by the "family hospital" in the Coco Solo submarine base. (McCain's grandfather commanded the Coco Solo Naval Air Station in 1936; his father was the executive officer of a submarine based in Coco Solo.)
The birth certificate was signed by Captain W. L. Irvine. I have now checked that name against the Naval Register for 1936, and I find that William Lorne Irvine was director of the medical facility at the submarine base hospital in Coco Solo, Panama Canal Zone, during that time period. You can see the entry here. I think this effectively disposes of any remaining doubts that McCain was born inside the Canal Zone.
The senator's 96-year-old mother, Roberta McCain, recalled the occasion in a Mother's Day video available here. She recalled "the 27 bottles of Scotch" stacked on a table of the nearby Officers' Club, gifts to her husband in celebration of the arrival of "the sweetest, nicest child I have ever known."
The Pinocchio Test
There is a valid constitutional debate about what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they decided that only "natural born" citizens should be eligible for the presidency. But there is no foundation for the rumors that have surfaced on the Internet that John McCain was born in the Panamanian city of Colon, rather than inside the U.S.-administered Panama Canal Zone.
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