Could the Speaker of the House become president if he wasn't born in the USA?
Maybe yes, maybe no. The scenario has never been put to the test.
Natural Born Citizen
Per the language in the U.S. Constitution, a person who is not a "natural born Citizen" is not eligible to serve as president.
But what does "natural born citizen" mean? And how would the courts interpret the term if the Presidency actually landed on the lap of a foreign-born Speaker?
Citizen at Birth
If "natural born" means "citizen at birth", which holds that a person is a U.S. citizen if they are born outside of the U.S., and have at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen, then the answer to the question can be "yes".
A Speaker born in France, who's father is German and mother is American, can become president.
Both Senator John McCain, who was born in Panama, and Senator Ted Cruz, who was born in Canada, ran for president under the "citizen at birth" interpretation of "natural born".
Born in the United States
If "natural born" means "born in the United States", then the answer to the question is "no".
Under this interpretation, what is the likely outcome if the President and Vice President are unable to serve, and the third in line of succession, the Speaker of the House, was not born in the U.S.?
Presumably, the Speaker would be skipped over.
There is a presidential line of succession, and it doesn't end with the Speaker of the House.
- Vice President
- Speaker of the House of Representatives
- President pro tempore of the Senate
- Secretary of State
- Secretary of the Treasury
- Secretary of Defense
- Attorney General
- Secretary of the Interior
- Secretary of Agriculture
- Secretary of Commerce
- Secretary of Labor
- Secretary of Health and Human Services
- Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
- Secretary of Transportation
- Secretary of Energy
- Secretary of Education
- Secretary of Veterans Affairs
- Secretary of Homeland Security