After about an hour of endorsements from decorated military veterans and just before taking reporters on a tour of his new Washington, D.C., hotel, Donald Trump made a brief statement acknowledging that Barack Obama was, in fact, born in the United States. Not that it will make any difference.
“Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy. I finished it,” Trump said, “You know what I mean.” (?) “Barack Obama was born in the United States of America. Period.” he continued. “Now let’s get back to making America strong and great again. Thank you.”
The event was initially billed to the press corps as an opportunity to question the Republican presidential candidate about his record of questioning the legitimacy of Obama’s citizenship—a barely-veiled attempt to delegitimize the first black president on account of his race. He did not take questions on Friday.
As refreshing as it may be to have forced Trump to acknowledge reality (even in this most perfunctory way), there is no real reason to think that getting the reality star “on the record” about an issue means anything to him or his supporters. Any concession Trump makes to the demands of politically correct liberals is delivered—or at least received—with a wink and a nod.
Moreover, Trump’s core statement—that Obama was born in the United States—is couched in disingenuity: Hillary Clinton did not start the birther movement, and he did not “finish” it. The White House released the president’s birth certificate in 2011, but as BuzzFeed News reports Trump continued to encourage conspiracy theories as recently as this year, going so far as to question whether the certificate was actually real.
Asked in January whether he thought Obama was a citizen, Trump told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer: “Who knows? Who cares right now? We’re talking about something else, OK. I mean, I have my own theory on Obama. Someday I’ll write a book. I’ll do another book, and it will do very successfully.”