The comments quickly rekindled the ugly controversy that was seemingly put to rest when Obama produced his verified birth certificate in 2011.
Obama icily responded from the Oval Office Friday morning: “I’m shocked that a question like that has come up at a time when we have so many other things to do. Well, I’m not that shocked actually. It’s fairly typical. We got other things to attend to. I was pretty confident about where I was born. I think most people were as well. My hope would be the presidential election reflects more serious issues than that.”
Even before the president’s remarks, Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., appeared on Good Morning America to try and smooth things over Friday, the same day Democratic rival Hillary Clinton declared the Republican presidential candidate is “feeding into the worst impulses – the bigotry and bias – that lurks in our country.”
The 38-year-old businessman told George Stephanopoulos Friday morning that his father wouldn’t address the birther question to the newspaper because he wanted to focus on his policy.
“He doesn’t want to get off-message,” Trump Jr. said. “He doesn’t want to create another story. He wants to talk about jobs for Americans. He wants to talk about his revolutionary plan for women and working mothers these days. Those are the things we want to talk about.”
He continued: “We don’t want to create gossip scenario all over this thing. This is the presidency of the United States. We want to talk about the issues and putting Americans back to work.”
When the elder Trump was asked whether he believes Obama was born in Hawaii, he told The Washington Post, “I’ll answer that question at the right time – I just don’t want to answer it yet.”
Instead, he turned to senior communications adviser Jason Miller – who released a statement late Thursday that attempted to lay to rest Trump’s crusade.
“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. (In truth, Obama released released his birth certificate via The White House.)
Trump Jr. told GMA that should be the final word on the matter.
“He said it last night,” Trump Jr. said when asked why Trump hadn’t answered the question more directly to the Post. “His campaign spokesperson who he was speaking to last night – and I was with the team when they were doing it – drafted a statement to say just that. That is coming from him because I was involved in those conversations. The head of his campaign spokesperson is putting it out. That’s from the campaign.”
As far as Trump, Jr. is concerned, Miller’s statement should put the birther debate to rest once and for all.
“This should be the definitive end of it,” he said. “We thought it was the definitive end when he got Obama to release his birth certificate. But again – we want to talk about jobs, we don’t want to talk about gossip. It doesn’t matter.”
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Meanwhile, Clinton, who is back on the campaign trail after battling pneumonia, addressed the issue while giving a speech at the Black Women’s Agenda Symposium Workshop in Washington, D.C. Friday.
“He’s trying to restrain himself and clean up his image. But as Maya
Angelou once said, ‘When someone shows you who they are, believe them the
first time.’ “
“And we know who Donald is,” she continued. “For five years he has led the birther movement
to delegitimize our first black president. His campaign was founded on this outrageous lie. There is no erasing it in history. Just yesterday, Trump again refused to say with his own words
that the president was born in the United States.
“He is feeding into the worst impulses – the bigotry and bias – that lurks in
our country,” she also said.
“Barack Obama was born in America, plain and simple, and Donald Trump owes him and the American people an apology. There is no new Donald Trump. There never will be. Donald Trump looks at President Obama after eight years as our president, he still doesn’t see him as an American. Think about how dangerous that is.
“Imagine a person in the Oval Office who traffics in conspiracy theories and refuses to let them go no matter what the facts are. Imagine someone who distorts the truth to fit a very narrow view of the world. Imagine a president who sees someone who doesn’t look like him and doesn’t agree
with him and thinks that person must not be a real American.”
The Trump campaign’s Thursday statement said he resolved the birther controversy in 2011 “by successfully compelling President Obama to release his birth certificate.” But in reality the GOP nominee continued to raise questions about Obama’s citizenship even after the president released his birth certificate. Here are some of Trump’s tweets on the topic over the years:
As recently as 2014, Trump was still suggesting that Obama’s birth certificate was a fake.