- The Washington Times - Friday, September 16, 2016

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump declined on Friday to say whether President Obama was born in the United States, saying he had to “keep the suspense going” for a “big statement” later in the day.

“I’m going to make a big announcement on it today — probably during my first speech at my new hotel,” Mr. Trump said on Fox Business Network, referring to his property in Washington, D.C.

“The bottom line is this: We know that Obama now — he was born in America, correct?” asked host Maria Bartiromo.

“You watch my statement. We have to keep the suspense going, OK?” Mr. Trump said. “You watch the statement, OK? I think you’ll be happy.”

Mr. Trump said Hillary Clinton brought it up during the 2008 presidential campaign.

“I was the one that was successful in getting him to release his birth certificate. I’m going to have a big statement made today at the hotel,” Mr. Trump said.

SEE ALSO: Donald Trump camp acknowledges Obama born in U.S., blames Hillary Clinton for ‘birther’ issue

“I’m going to be making a major statement on this whole thing and what Hillary did, but no, she is the one that started it,” he said. “And she was unable or incapable of finishing it — that’s the way it worked out. But I got him to release his birth certificate.”

Fact-checkers have said the notion that the “birther” issue originated with Mrs. Clinton or her campaign in 2008 is false.

A Trump campaign spokesman said in a statement late Thursday that Mr. Trump, “having successfully obtained President Obama’s birth certificate when others could not,” “believes that President Obama was born in the United States.”

In an interview with The Washington Post that was published earlier Thursday, Mr. Trump himself had declined to answer when asked, saying he’d answer the question “at the right time” and didn’t want to answer it yet.

Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said recently that Mr. Trump now believes Mr. Obama was born in the United States.

Asked if Ms. Conway was accurate in saying so, Mr. Trump had told The Post: “It’s OK. She’s allowed to speak what she thinks. I want to focus on jobs. I want to focus on other things.”

Donald Trump Jr., the candidate’s son, had said earlier Friday that the campaign’s statement Thursday evening “should be the definitive end of it.”

“I think he said it last night,” the younger Mr. Trump said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

“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,” he said.

“What he doesn’t want to do — he doesn’t want to get off message. He doesn’t want to create another story. He wants to talk about jobs. He wants to talk about his economic plan,” he said.

“We don’t want to create a gossip scenario all over this thing,” he said. “This is the presidency of the United States. We want to talk about the issues and putting Americans back to work.”

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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