Donald Trump refused to comment this week on whether President Obama was born in the United States, prompting his campaign spokesman to say it was Hillary Clinton who gave birth to birtherism and that Trump believes the president wasn’t born abroad.
In 2011, Trump offered money in exchange for dirt on Obama, said he sent investigators to Hawaii, and demanded the president produce his longform birth certificate. When the White House produced it, Trump told reporters he was “very proud” of himself for doing “something that nobody else has been able to accomplish.”
In an interview with the Washington Post’s Robert Costa conducted Wednesday, Trump was asked whether he believes Obama was born in Hawaii. “I’ll answer that question at the right time,” Trump said. “I just don’t want to answer it yet.”
Trump was asked about his campaign manager Kellyanne Conway’s recent assertion that the GOP nominee now believes Obama was born in the U.S. “It’s OK. She’s allowed to speak what she thinks,” Trump responded. “I want to focus on jobs. I want to focus on other things.”
“I don’t talk about it anymore. The reason I don’t is because then everyone is going to be talking about it as opposed to jobs, the military, the vets, security,” he added.
Soon after the story was published Thursday evening, Trump communications advisor Jason Miller flashed back to 2011, when Trump “was finally able to bring this ugly incident to its conclusion by successfully compelling President Obama to release his birth certificate.”
“Mr. Trump did a great service to the president and the country by bringing closure to the issue that Hillary Clinton and her team first raised. Inarguably, Donald J. Trump is a closer. Having successfully obtained President Obama’s birth certificate when others could not, Mr. Trump believes that President Obama was born in the United States,” Miller said.
“Mr. Trump is now totally focused on bringing jobs back to America, defeating radical Islamic terrorism, taking care of our veterans, introducing school choice opportunities and rebuilding and making our inner cities safe again,” he added.
In an address at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute gala in Washington on Thursday evening, Clinton referenced the story, noting, “Today, he did it again.”
“He was asked one more time, ‘Where was President Obama born?’ And he still wouldn’t still say ‘Hawaii.’ He still wouldn’t say ‘America.’ This man wants to be our next president? When will he stop this ugliness, this bigotry?” Clinton said.
“Now, he’s tried to reset himself and his campaign many times. This is the best he can do. This is who he is. And so we need to decide who we are,” she added. “If we just sigh and shake our heads and accept this, then what does that tell our kids about who we are? We need to stand up and repudiate this divisive rhetoric. We need to stop him conclusively in November in an election that sends a message that even he can hear. We need to set the kind of example we want for ourselves and our children and our grandchildren.”
Politifact ruled last year that Obama birtherism was traced back to the PUMA — Party Unity My Ass — movement by disgruntled grassroots Clinton supporters upset that Obama got the nomination and Hillary was asking her supporters to back him. “There is no record that Clinton herself or anyone within her campaign ever advanced the charge that Obama was not born in the United States,” they said.
Trump did not tweet about the issue Wednesday.
Clinton tweeted late in the evening: “President Obama’s successor cannot and will not be the man who led the racist birther movement. Period.”