Donald Trump owns the disgraceful birther movement. His one-sentence effort to walk away from it on Friday cannot erase his long, cynical and racist attempt to undermine President Barack Obama and create his own path to the White House.
In 2011, Trump went mainstream with claims manufactured by the operator of a fringe white nationalist website — one that also pushes the absurd notion that soybeans cause homosexuality — that Obama was born in Kenya. It was among the first signs that Trump was considering a run for the 2012 nomination. Obama was born in Hawaii, and he quieted the ruckus by getting that state to find and release his original long-form birth certificate, rather than a digital copy.
Trump abandoned his bid for the 2012 GOP nomination, but didn’t forget the traction birtherism gave him. The bogus claim seeded the base for his current campaign with those who never could accept that a black man became president. A survey last year by Public Policy Polling found that 61 percent of Trump supporters believe the garbage about Kenya. And recent polls say 40 percent of Republicans still believe it.
Now, Trump needs to widen his base to win, and polls say his birther claims are among the top reasons many voters dislike him. So he changed his stripes. And then he manipulated the media on Friday into live coverage of the renunciation of his lie, even as he preposterously claimed that Hillary Clinton started the controversy, and Trump gave himself credit for resolving it. In addition, he cleverly turned the episode into an informercial for his newest hotel.
Clinton is demanding that Trump apologize to Obama. That’s a waste of time — he won’t. And the 66 million Americans who voted for Obama in 2012 would have no reason to accept it. — The editorial board