Donald Trump publicly retreated from his “birther” campaign Friday, acknowledging that President Barack Obama was born in the United States and saying that he wanted to move on from the conspiracy theory that he has been clinging to for years.
Marking a sharp reversal from his previous position, Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, said at a campaign appearance that he was now satisfied that Obama was born in Hawaii.
“President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period,” Trump said at his new Trump International Hotel. “Now, we all want to get back to making America strong and great again.”
The Trump campaign has given conflicting signals on the issue of Obama’s birthplace in recent weeks. Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana, Trump’s running mate; Kellyanne Conway, his campaign manager; and Rudy Giuliani, an adviser, have all recently acknowledged that Obama was born in the United States.
But Trump refused to say that himself in an interview with The Washington Post on Thursday night.
“I’ll answer that question at the right time,” Trump said in the interview, dismissing the recent acknowledgments by his aides. “I just don’t want to answer it yet.”
Trump also falsely accused Hillary Clinton of having first raised questions about Obama’s birthplace during the 2008 Democratic primary.
“Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy,” Trump said. “I finished it.”
During the 2008 Democratic contest, Clinton’s senior strategist at one point pondered, in an internal memo that was later leaked, the ways in which Obama’s personal background differed from many Americans. But contrary to Trump’s assertion, neither Clinton nor her campaign ever publicly questioned Obama’s citizenship or birthplace, in Hawaii.
Trump’s remark came after Obama, in a brief exchange Friday with reporters at the White House, again expressed scorn for the entire subject. “I was pretty confident about where I was born,” he said. “I think most people were as well. My hope would be that the presidential election reflects more serious issues than that.”