May 29th, 2012
05:12 PM ET
3 years ago

Blitzer and Trump go at it over Trump's 'birther' claims

(CNN) - Donald Trump did not back down Tuesday from his questioning of President Barack Obama's birthplace, instead arguing heatedly with CNN's Wolf Blitzer that "a lot of people do not think it was an authentic certificate," though he declined to offer names of experts who agree with him.

The issue of Obama's birth - litigated in the 2008 presidential campaign, then settled when the Obama White House released the longform version of the certificate in April 2011 - is being brought to the fore in no small part by Trump, who is also set to fundraise alongside presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney Tuesday evening.

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On CNN's "The Situation Room" Tuesday, Trump maintained that Obama's birthplace is a matter of opinion, rather than fact.

"Everybody's entitled to your opinion," he said. "You know my opinion and you know his opinion and that's fine. We're entitled - as he said yesterday in the airplane - we're all entitled to our opinions and he's entitled to have his opinion. I don't happen to share that opinion, it's wonderful."

Blitzer presented Trump with newspaper announcements of Obama's birth from 1961.

Trump interrupted, "Can you stop defending Obama?"

"Donald, you're beginning to sound a little ridiculous, I have to tell you," Blitzer replied.

"You are, Wolf," Trump fired back. "Let me tell you something, I think you sound ridiculous."

Trump then alleged that the practice of filing U.S. birth announcements for an overseas birth was commonplace, though he offered no evidence.

"Many people put those announcements in because they wanted to get the benefits of being so-called born in this country," Trump said. "Many people did it."

Obama's longform birth certificate showed he was born in Hawaii on August 4, 1961 and was acknowledged as authentic by state officials. Natural born American citizenship is one of the Constitutional requirements for the presidency.

"Is it the most important thing?" Trump asked in an interview earlier on Tuesday. "In a way it is. You're not allowed to be the president if you're not born in the country."

Trump finds himself at odds with GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, whose spokeswoman pointed out in an email statement that "Governor Romney has said repeatedly that he believes President Obama was born in the United States."

But Romney made no effort to distance himself from the comments, even when presented with the opportunity by reporters on Monday.

"You know, I don't agree with all the people who support me and my guess is they don't all agree with everything I believe in," Romney said when asked about the issue. "But I need to get 50.1% or more and I'm appreciative to have the help of a lot of good people."

Trump said he has not spoken about the birther issue with Romney

"I haven't talked to Mitt Romney about it," he said. "What I speak to Mitt Romney about is jobs. What I speak to Mitt Romney about is China, because he's got a great view on China and how they're taking our jobs and taking our product and manipulating their currency so it makes it almost impossible for our companies to compete."

Trump spoke by phone with Blitzer in the interview from Las Vegas, where he and Romney will fundraise with former GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich.

Obama's campaign released a web video on Tuesday that said the 2008 GOP nominee "John McCain stood up to the voices of extremism in his party… Why won't Mitt Romney do the same?" In the video, McCain is seen addressing a woman who called Obama an "Arab," saying, "He's a decent family man, citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with."

The president's deputy campaign manager suggested Romney's alliance with Trump in light of the tycoon's statements calls into question how he would serve as president.

"Mitt Romney's continued embrace of Donald Trump and refusal to condemn his disgraceful conspiracy theories demonstrates his complete lack of moral leadership," Stephanie Cutter said in a Tuesday afternoon statement. "If Mitt Romney lacks the backbone to stand up to a charlatan like Donald Trump because he's so concerned about lining his campaign's pockets, what does that say about the kind of President he would be?"

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday the White House was forced to address the issue last year, "but not because we chose to, but because it was such a ridiculous distraction from the important business that we should be doing here that the president is committed to doing and Congress should be doing to help the economy grow and help it create jobs."

"We can revisit that but I think the American people are pretty fed up with this kind of nonsense," he said.

As evidence of his claims, Trump pointed to a biographical note published in the 1990s by Obama's literary agent, which said Obama was born in Kenya.

The literary agent recently apologized for the mistake.

Also see:

Romney likely to hit 'magic number' on Tuesday

Texas gears up for Lone Star primary

Romney doesn't back away from 'birther' Trump


Filed under: 2012 • Birthers • Donald Trump • Mitt Romney
soundoff (1,069 Responses)
  1. Trumped

    Trump.. the man who claims that if he ran for president he would win easily because he is so popular. Trump... the man who is so concerned about the United States, but chose to pass up running for President because he likes his television show more than his country. Trump.. the man who has used to Bankruptcy 4 times as his way of cheating those he owes money. Trump... the blow hard.

    May 29, 2012 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  2. John Merrick

    What I don't understand about Trump is how someone can go through life without ANY self respect. Most people if they are normal can feel shame. He doesn't. And that is a sign of mental illness.

    May 29, 2012 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  3. panorain

    Trump is just posturing. Romney has no obligation to say anything negative. Nor does Obama have to decry or defend his crowd. In this case the issue is whether Obama pretended to come from Kenya. So far all we have is the 16 year bio he posted claiming such. But did he have any knowledge of the mistake? And was he willing to pander to the mistake? In some weird way think Trump is using greater if apparently foolish wisdom to bring the bio to the fore. THEN if they can get lightening to strike twice, ie another Obama self-described bio claiming Kenyan birth.

    May 29, 2012 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  4. Terry

    Donald Trump is a joke, nothing more, nothing less. It is time to put out the garbage.

    May 29, 2012 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  5. Terry in Virginia

    The term "natural born citizen" has long been ambiguous but the courts and Congress have avoided defining it. George Romney was born in Mexico to U.S. parents and yet he ran for President, losing his bid to Nixon. John McCain was born in Panama to U.S. parents serving on the post there. In 2008, the Senate issued a non-binding resolution declaring that Mr. McCain was a "natural born citizen." Barack Obama was born to a woman who was born in Kansas and according to the Secretary of State for Hawaii, he was born in Hawaii, therefore, making him a natural born citizen. Why is it okay for the GOP to run candidates who may not actually have been "natural born citizens" but it's wrong for the Democrats? Part of this may be racially motivated by some but reality is both parties have a football game mentality - they want to win at all costs, regardless if they destroy our country in the process. If Mr. Trump truly wants to make a positive contribution to this issue and ensure his legacy for all time, he should put his money where his mouth is and force this issue into court or before the Congress and once and forever settle what exactly is a "natural born citizen?" Being King of the Birthers will only bring him a fool's glory, but forcing this issue to be legally decided would guarantee his place in history as a man who cared more about his country than about the game.

    May 29, 2012 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  6. panorain

    All Romney has to say is it is a distraction. And so what? What is the harm? Why do the Libs have to get their knickers so twisted up over idle speculation about where Obama was born. It does not matter. And even Obama's supposed error about his own posted bio over a sixteen year stretch with many revisions, but keeping the error, does not matter. And so far it does not look like any information is popping up about Obama claiming Kenyan birth twice. Which would then throw his character up for inspection.

    May 29, 2012 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  7. Robert

    You go, Wolf! Who is this guy to tell us what he's going to talk about, and that he's so important that we should only talk about what he want's to talk about? If he's going to follow these crack-pot theories, hold his feet to the fire. I love how he says that a lot of people don't believe the certificate is real. Yeah? Well, a lot of people believe 9-11 was an inside job. That doesn't mean it isn't a crack-pot theory.

    May 29, 2012 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  8. Will

    Right! and this is where I bring up Obama's relationship with the likes of Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers, and Tony Rezko. Trump looks like an angel next to those guys. By the way, I (independent) and the Majority of Republicans do not support Trump's birther agenda so quit pretending that this is a major issue. Economy is number one, and Obama can't hide his failed economic policies behind sideshow distractions....ROMNEY 2012

    May 29, 2012 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  9. R B

    Congradualtions to W Blitzer. Donald Trump, like many others, will continue to separte us with their radical thoughts and comments, unless their challenged. We're more alike then we are different.

    May 29, 2012 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  10. JJ

    Does anybody actually consider Donald Trump anything more than tabloid entertainment?

    May 29, 2012 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  11. Trevor

    Are we done yet discussing this topic so we can move on to more important things?

    May 29, 2012 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  12. GaryB

    Let's face it. Had he not been born wealthy, Donald Trump probably would've been a con man on his way to his third prison term by now. Why anyone gives any value to anything this self-important blowhard says is beyond me. The fact, wowever, that this is the company that Romney chooses to keep tells us a lot about Romney (or it leasgt it tells us how cheaply Romney would be willing to sell his soul).

    May 29, 2012 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  13. his hair's gone to his head.

    all the money in the world cannot buy you mental health.

    May 29, 2012 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  14. Phil the Love

    Remember last year when Obama produced the long form BC? And then interrupted The Apprentice to anounce the death of Bin Laden. That was great. Next up for Trump, an IRS audit. ;-)

    May 29, 2012 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  15. fred flintstone

    Donald? OH, that guy with the weird hair. Who, including Mitt Romney, would care what he says?

    May 29, 2012 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  16. Rob

    Trump is nothing more than a board room bully. He an embarrrassment to rational thinking beings.

    May 29, 2012 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  17. Joe citizen abroad

    I think Mr. Trump has absorbed too much ManTan. You are eligible to be president if you are a natural-born US citizen, which means you are a citizen at birth. So the child of a US citizen, wherever that child happens to be born, is eligible. Mitt Romney's father was eligible, even though he was born in Mexico, because he was born to US citizens living abroad. Only one parent needs to be a US citizen, and that would have been Obama's mother. No one is disputing her citizenship. So there is no leg to stand on, even if Obama wasn't born in Hawaii (which he clearly was). His birth mother was a US citizen, so he's a natural-born US citizen.

    May 29, 2012 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  18. Cindy

    Donald Trump is getting too much attention being a clown and he is salavating in it. Of course the news is loving the attention too. move on to better news.

    May 29, 2012 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  19. 1nd3p3nd3nt

    how do people not understand what 'naturally born citizen' means? It doesn't mean you have to be born on american soil, it could mean you have an american parent. If americans are traveling abroad or have a contract job in another country when their child is, that child is an american citizen, naturally born, american citizen.

    why is this so hard? it makes even donald trump look like more of a chump!
    one of the most fail arguments ever

    May 29, 2012 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  20. Patti

    What exactly would it take to convince Mr. Trump that the President is indeed a natural citizen? I don't think anything could. Talk about a dog with a bone – move on Mr. Trump. Stop trying to distract us. Don't you have something better to do? How about dealing with some real problems instead of perpetuating a stale myth that has been put to rest several times over already. Go create some jobs with all those businesses you own, go hire some people. This tired rhetoric just makes you look, well, pathetic actually. We get it. You don't like President Obama. You just need to find a better argument, this one is so 2008. Let it go already.

    May 29, 2012 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  21. dH

    Too much of anything is BAD. Even the Freedom of Speech.

    May 30, 2012 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  22. Oodoodanoo

    I'm beginning to think Donald Trump is Andy Kaufman in disguise.

    May 30, 2012 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  23. mark

    Trying to breath life into this dead horse of an issue is tantamount to political suicide; are they actually trying to lose intentionally? believe either side you like, but trying to win over independents with this is just not going to end well.

    May 30, 2012 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  24. Atul Chaudhary

    I have not Pres Obama distancing himself from Bill Mahr even though he has been over the line so many times. I have not seen Pres Obama distancing himself from those UNION leaders who continuously wage war against entrepreneurial spirit of America. I may not agree with everything that Trump stands for or believes in but he has right to speech and opinion. This is free America. Romney has already said he has no issues with President's birth certificate so why media is after him because they know Trump is Joe Biden who cannot be tongue tied who would say his mind and believe me he has followers.

    May 30, 2012 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  25. Bigred

    Trump is simply a buffoon who believes that people actually take what he says as gospel. Sadly for Trump, Mr. and Mrs America know a fool when they see one. He should go back to managing his failed real estate empire and leave the smart people (the voters) to make the important decisions.

    May 30, 2012 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
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