The birther conspiracy may have been debunked multiple times, but try telling that to Donald Trump. The real estate mogul and reality TV host told CNBC on Tuesday that he is still on the case.
Talking Points Memo:
“I never really changed — nothing’s changed my mind,” Trump told CNBC, reassuring that his birtherism is as rock solid as it was last year when he briefly led Republican primary polling. “And by the way, you know, you have a huge group of people. I walk down the street and people are screaming, ‘Please don’t give that up.’ Look, a publisher came out last week and had a statement about Obama given to them by Obama when he was doing a book as a young man a number of years ago in the ’90s: ‘Born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia.’”
Trump was referring to promotional material for Obama’s memoirs from 1991 that erroneously described him as Kenyan-born, which the publisher has said was a typo. Obama has produced both his short- and long-form birth certificate and the state of Hawaii as recently as this week reconfirmed that he was born in the state, but Trump says the erroneous promo is the one to believe.
“That’s not the way life works,” Trump said of the correction. “He’s a young man doing a book and he said what he believed to be the truth.”
What makes it all the more compelling this time around is that the billionaire businessman stepped up the accusations the same day he was scheduled to host a campaign fundraiser for Mitt Romney in Las Vegas. The presumed Republican presidential nominee has thus far refused to push back against Trump on the birther charges, which has left some wondering whether the connection could hurt Romney’s campaign.
Trump bashers of all political stripes have often reacted incredulously to Romney’s intimacy with the mogul, even outside the context of birtherism. After all, is there a single undecided or Obama-leaning voter who will change his or her vote to Romney because an outlandish television celebrity tells them to? Surely not—but the same logic applies here. If voters are so inclined to disregard Trump, there’s no downside: his support won’t turn them off Romney, either. On the other side of the balance sheet, the cash that Romney collects at the Vegas fundraiser is perfectly legal tender that can feed the campaign coffers.
Romney’s position still isn’t quite coherent. For example, as Andrew Kaczynski points out, it doesn’t make much sense that Romney leapt to condemn an independent plan to link Obama to Jeremiah Wright—an attack that is factually defensible, if politically dangerous—but is willing to indulge birtherism, a belief that is factually and morally indefensible.
All that said, will Romney be able to maintain his po-faced insistence that he is not his fundraiser’s keeper? Trump, who is incapable of restraining himself when there’s a chance for self-promotion, was doubling (and tripling and quadrupling) down on his statements Tuesday. Perhaps he will eventually go too far—even for Romney.
President Obama’s campaign is taking advantage of the fact that Romney seems unwilling to condemn Trump for his take on the controversial birther conspiracy. His re-election team has released a new video highlighting the differences between how Romney and 2008 GOP presidential candidate John McCain handled personal attacks against Obama. Needless to say, The Donald plays a very prominent role in the new ad. —TEB