Trump rides issue of Obama’s birth certificate
Though the certificate of live birth constitutes legal proof under Hawaii and federal law, Hawaii state officials say they also have seen the “long-form” certificate that the state keeps and have said it also has Mr. Obama being born in Honolulu. However, privacy laws prevent the state from releasing that document to anyone, though it would be available for the president to inspect personally. Mr. Obama has fought in court against the release.
But many in the so-called birther movement, fueled by talk-radio conspiracists and skeptical comments from Republican leaders, remain unconvinced - and they have found a champion in Mr. Trump, who has jousted in recent weeks with everyone from Fox’s Bill O'Reilly to the women on “The View.”
On MSNBC last month, he defended his stand.
“I am embracing the issue and I’m proud of the issue. I think somebody has to embrace the issue because, frankly, the people that are - and I don’t like the name ‘birther,’ because I think it’s very unfair and I think it’s very derogatory to a lot of very good people who happen to think that there’s a possibility that this man was not born in this country,” he said.
But many in politics and the media, like New York Times columnist Gail Collins and Republican strategist Karl Rove, argue that the “birther” issue further marginalizes a would-be candidate who was already a long shot to be taken seriously in the race.
Others point out that while the notoriously self-promoting billionaire has climbed into the thick of the Republican mix in recent polls, his “Celebrity Apprentice” reality show also has experienced a ratings bump.
But when Ms. Collins dismissed him as “loopy,” the blunt-spoken Mr. Trump fired back with a letter to the Times last week saying, “I have great respect for Ms. Collins in that she has survived so long with so little talent.”
That refusal to back down in the face of mainstream media scorn has won admirers among the GOP rank and file - and even some grudging respect from other Republican contenders.
“I appreciate that ‘The Donald’ wants to spend his resources in getting to the bottom of something that so interests him and many Americans - you know, more power to him,” former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said Saturday on Fox News. “He’s not just throwing stones from the sidelines; he’s digging in there.”
Mrs. Palin said at a February on-stage interview in New York that she doesn’t doubt the president’s citizenship and called the birth controversy - along with claims that Mr. Obama is or was a Muslim - “distractions.”
Her Saturday interview may indicate a half-position open to Republicans who do not want to dismiss a position common among their base - saying they do not doubt Mr. Obama’s citizenship but question his refusal to release the “long-form” document. They say it implies a preference for secrecy over disclosure.
“I think he was born in Hawaii,” Mrs. Palin said, citing the 1961 newspaper birth notices, but “obviously there’s something there that the president doesn’t want people to see. … He’s going to great lengths to make sure that it isn’t shown. … That’s kind of perplexing.”
• Ben Wolfgang contributed to this report.
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