Was Trump hinting that he might mount a legal challenge to Cruz’s eligibility to serve as president? No doubt Trump considers it an option. If Cruz continues to surge in the polls and then pulls off a few early primary victories, Trump might attempt it — if only to corner media coverage for a few days to slow the Texas senator’s momentum.

But the gambit could backfire on Trump. Republicans across the board would resent Trump bringing a damaging issue like this to the fore of the campaign. Even raising it now, if only to speculate on what a court challenge could mean to the Cruz campaign, is not likely to win him many additional friends in the Republican Party.

And it was just Trump going birther — Rand Paul and even former GOP presidential nominee John McCain (who should know better) are also playing that gambit against Cruz this week, as the primaries loom larger. On the other hand, as John Nolte has been writing on his Twitter feed, getting the birther stuff out of the way somewhat mutes the media using this as a wedge — or worse, the typical DNC-MSM late-October drive-by massacre — if Cruz winds winning the nomination. He can yawn and declare the issue old hat, in much the same way that Obama was able to shake off the birther talk as November of 2008 approached. Cruz won’t have a supine media to help him as Obama did of course, but he can also have fun with a Reagan-esque “well, there you go again” if Hillary herself raises the issue, and point out that this isn’t the first time her presidential campaign helped birth a birther attack.