May 29th, 2012
05:12 PM ET
2 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. Pascal

    So state officials in Hawaii are deemed "experts" to validate the latest birth certicate submission, but any other person, including Sheriff Arpaio in Arizonna, is "ridiculous" if he questions the authenticity. I remember how RIDICULOUS the National Enquirer was for revealing John Edwards affair.

    May 30, 2012 07:28 am at 7:28 am |
  2. Pascal

    If "birhing" if crazy (i.e claiming the President was born in Kenya), is Obama crazy for making the claim earlier in his career? At least Wolf should call him "RIDICULOUS".

    May 30, 2012 07:36 am at 7:36 am |
  3. jdun

    This is the typical republican game plan we have seen for many election cycles. The candidate, fill in the blank, goes around the country meeting with various groups who have certain needs. The candidate doesn't come out and take a particular extreme view although he hints at it. Meanwhile, people like Karl Rove are in the background grinding out this smear attack on the opposing candidate that is full of lies, misinformation, misleading statistics and spliced sound bites that make the opponent look terrible (ex. Swift Boat attack ads, 2004) Meanwhile, the candidate says that he never said those things and he can't control the message of his supporters. Of course, former members of his campaign staff are among these PAC attackers. Its a big, serious, expensive game supported by those who want to regain economic power or feel that their power is threatened by democracy. My question is: If this is so obvious why do voters watch or listen to the ads? Are they really sold by this advertising method? Are voters that stupid? I hope not.

    May 30, 2012 07:36 am at 7:36 am |
  4. levi

    It is sad that Romney cannot just tell Trump to STHU. He needs his money. That is what Mitt is all about!

    May 30, 2012 07:43 am at 7:43 am |
  5. vulpecula

    I beleive Donald Trump was born in Kenya. Let's see his birth certificate. Of course, He's never shown it before now, so he must be hiding something. And he's got more than enough money to have it forged. Prove it Donald. Not that I'm saying I'd beleive anything you'd say though.

    May 30, 2012 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
  6. Tim

    Obama admitted in an earlier book that he was born in Kenya and his grandmother confirmed it as well.
    Let's see his school transcripts to see how honest he really is.

    May 30, 2012 07:45 am at 7:45 am |
  7. pete

    Listening to Trump harp about Obama's birth certificate is as stupid and annoying as Obama's continuing to blame Bush.

    May 30, 2012 07:45 am at 7:45 am |
  8. Loopman

    All of this lip-flapping from Trump about the birther issue and the fact that Romney won't confront him on the issue just proves one thing to me. For enough money, Romney will do just about anything, including run the risk of being publicly humiliated by a known fool, just to get what he wants. Just imagine what he would be willing to do as president to get what he wants. It appears that there are at least two villages that are missing their idiots.

    May 30, 2012 07:46 am at 7:46 am |
  9. Skipper

    It would appear that the reality TV star Donald Trump is trying to single handedly torpedo Romney's campaign.

    May 30, 2012 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
  10. CGR

    I understand why the media gives Trump press – the reason $$$$$ – ratings, etc......he's a charlatan=quack a reminder of traveling medicine men who sold "cures" from the back of their wagons – his ego is HUGE – he believes his own press......Romney should distance himself asap, he will be Romney's undoing -

    May 30, 2012 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  11. memphispiano

    I have never been a birther. But there are two things that trouble me greatly. First is this new revelation of a booklet that Obama published in 1991 that said he was born in Kenya. Until he ran for president, he never said it was in error. From that, I would either conclude that he was in fact born in Kenya or he was willing to perpetrate a lie if it helped sell the publication. The second thing that troubles me is how the press (Wolf Blitzer for example) protest so loudly when someone does what they are supposed to do...question the validity of someone's claim. The press should be demanding the president's college records etc. yet they just try to label someone with questions (like Trump) as a mental case. After several years of this, I am nearing the point of "me thinks thou dost protest too much."

    May 30, 2012 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  12. augustghost

    Kathy...AMEN

    May 30, 2012 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  13. JS

    The bottom line is that Trump is correct. The birth certificate was obviously forged and Obama was born in Kenya. It may not be a big deal in the grand scheme of things- other than the fact that Obama is not only corrupt and self-serving- but also a complete fraud. Meanwhile, Wolf Blitzer is the worst interviewer in history. It's no wonder he finished with a NEGATIVE $4600 on Celebrity Jeopardy. What a dolt that guy is- which is consistent with the level of talent on CNN– waaay less than ZERO (also equal to the benefits Obama has brought since he illegally took office as our country's first socialist dictator).

    May 30, 2012 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  14. Robert

    Only the farthest fringe on the right still call what Trump thinks. This man traded his dignity for fame years ago. And Donald, the comb over doesn't make you look younger, just sadder.

    May 30, 2012 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  15. JS

    The bottom line is that Trump is correct. The birth certificate was obviously forged and Obama was born in Kenya. It may not be a big deal in the grand scheme of things- other than the fact that Obama is not only corrupt and self-serving- but also a complete fraud. Meanwhile, Wolf Blitzer is the worst interviewer in history. It's no wonder he finished with a NEGATIVE $4600 on Celebrity Jeopardy. What a dolt that guy is- which is consistent with the level of talent on CNN– waaay less than ZERO (also equal to the benefits Obama has brought since he illegally took office

    May 30, 2012 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  16. CBR

    Mr. Romney's statements about Mr. Trump's "birther" statement is unsettling. Do we need someone who will partner with anyone including people who continue to have their own agenda? Either Mr. Romney agrees with Mr. Trump or he just wants Mr. Trump's financial contributions to his campaign. You are judged by the company you keep. Mr. Romney will be judged that way as well.

    It is time for Donald Trump to back off and leave the campaigning to the Republican nominee.

    Mr. Trump is a businessman and reality tv star. He has a right to his opinions and can state them just like the rest of us. He will use any issue to keep his name on the front page. Most of it is his opinion and nothing more.

    May 30, 2012 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  17. John

    See this right here will tell you that MITT ROMNEY will LIE and do anything to get your vote. We don't need that kind of man In the White House. And he changes his mind every time he turn around. I don't even think he know what he stand for, he just saying what his backer are telling him what to said. Will all the Proof that been show and the State of Arizona even said that they got all the proof they needed from the State of Hawaii. But Donald Trump till don't believe It, It just go to show you just how big a Idiot he really Is.

    May 30, 2012 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  18. RenegadeFL

    I used to think all this birther stuff was nonsense, but now that I know some literary agent once wrote in a biographical note that Obama was born in Kenya I think maybe it is time for a full fledged investigation. Trump is a clown who gets WAY more attention than he warrants.

    May 30, 2012 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  19. Gary, Hunt Valley, Md.

    Donald Trump does not deserve any such attention, but the info-tainment that serves as so-called news media can't get enough of him or his outlandish views. Trump is no longer a candidate. he's just a TV host of a bad show and a rich man who obviously never got enough attention from Mom or Dad. Why do his ridiculous statements matter? Oh yeah, back to the ratings-starved media which has nothing better to do.

    May 30, 2012 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  20. Marti58

    Sanity declines with age (now that's a fact, not a conspiracy theory).
    Yea, our great President was born in Kenya and the twin towers are still standing in NYC. This is just sad all around. .A note to Mitt Romney – the friends you keep are a reflection of the type of person you are.
    Come November, I can hardly wait to cast my vote on the best president this country had in modern times, thanks

    May 30, 2012 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  21. Tom

    Dear Mr. Blitzer,
    Mr. Trump is buying influence. In a way he is acting as a lobbyist. Why? Because Mr. Romney does not have the courage to stand up to big businesses because Romney himself stands for big business. And this is part of the underlying problems – business being too big to fail. In a way I do not think a person should be allowed to buy political influence, and yet this is what Mr. Trump is doing. It is no different that a politician taking bribes. His influence, his leverage, his lobbying power, is what impedes smoothness in this country. As long as something benefits Mr. Trump, it does not matter how it will benefit the people of the United States collectively. This might not be blatant bribery but it is definitely purchasing political influence. It is no different than why teachers are not allowed to accept monetary gifts from students. This is clearly an ethics violation, because it is not necessarily saying a teacher's influence will be bought but it is a possibility. In this case, with Mr. Trump, it is not about being a possibility, it about being most definitely being able to leverage one's influence.

    May 30, 2012 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  22. Christopher

    The failure ot Mitt Romney to rebuke his supporters for continuing to further the lies of this "birther" rabbit hole. Further, John Sununu is rude, contentious, and completely uninterested in engaging in meaningful debate. He needs to go back to where he came from and be quiet.

    May 30, 2012 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  23. Richard

    Trump is a limelight hunting opportunist and Romney should remove him from the GOP equation to maintain any semblance of integrity going into this race.

    May 30, 2012 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  24. Christopher

    The Donald puts on a two month long publicity stunt where he fakes a presidential campaign and claims to be officially investigating the birther issue. And he now wonders why a reporter asks about it? Really?! Wolf should have asked the Donald to release all that information he was claiming to have dug up on the President!

    May 30, 2012 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  25. A hurried about face

    "The literary agent recently apologized for the mistake."

    What mistake? Spilling the beans?

    May 30, 2012 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
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