Donald Trump’s campaign team on Sunday stood firm on his claim that rival Hillary Clinton spread the idea that Barack Obama was not born in the United States, two days after the Republican conceded the president was an American.
“This started with Hillary Clinton’s campaign, number one,” his campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said in an interview aired on CBS’s “Face the Nation” talk show.
“Number two, it was Donald Trump who put the issue to rest when he got President Obama to release his birth certificate years later. And, number three, he said that, ‘President Obama was born in this country, period.’”
Mike Pence, Trump’s running mate, also said the billionaire’s acknowledgment on Friday that “Obama was born in the United States, period” should have put an end to the matter.
“Donald Trump’s been focusing on issues the American people really care about,” he told ABC’s “This Week.”
“He brought that issue to an end this week.”
When asked if Clinton started the so-called “birther” movement, an idea rejected by fact-checkers, Pence only said, “I’ll let the facts speak for themselves.”
Trump spent years promoting the theory that Obama might have been born in Kenya before Friday’s reversal at a much-hyped televised event at his new hotel in Washington, just blocks from the White House, when he laid into Clinton.
“Her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy. I finished it. I finished it. You know what I mean,” Trump said.
Senator Tim Kaine, Clinton’s running mate, blasted Trump’s insistent questioning of Obama’s birthplace, saying it had raised painful echoes for many Americans of a time when blacks could not be citizens.
The fact that Trump clung to the “birther” idea for so long, Kaine added, meant that “he’s either incredibly gullible or… he was trying to prey upon people’s darkest emotions.”
“That’s why Donald Trump’s statement isn’t sufficient. He owes the public an apology,” he said.
Trump has pulled even with Clinton in many recent polls, but continues to fare poorly among black voters, many of whom resent his questioning of Obama’s birthplace.
As for Obama, he made light of the matter in an appearance late Saturday at a Congressional Black Caucus dinner.
He said he was relieved that in the waning days of his presidency, “we got that resolved. I mean, that’s a boost for me in the home stretch.”
“In other breaking news, the world is round, not flat,” he said.