Clinton Jumps On Trump Comments Over Where Obama Was Born

Sep 16, 2016
Originally published on September 16, 2016 7:55 am
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Donald Trump has just finished up an event here in Washington, D.C., where he seemed to answer a question that has been on the minds of a lot of people for the last 24 hours or so. Let's listen to what he had to say.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DONALD TRUMP: President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period. Now we all want to get back to making America strong and great again.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: Thank you. Thank you very much.

GREENE: I'm in the studio with NPR's Sarah McCammon, who has been following Donald Trump and the event today. And Sarah, why is what he just said important?

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: So, David, as we all probably recall, for many years, Donald Trump has questioned where President Obama was born. And, of course, this is important because you have to be a natural-born citizen to be the president of the United States.

He spent years questioning whether or not he was born in Hawaii, asking for his birth certificate. President Obama produced his birth certificate in 2011. But Trump has continued to question this and refused to come out and say what we just heard him say today - that President Obama was indeed born in the United States.

This heated up, though, over the past couple of days. Yesterday, in an interview with The Washington Post, he was asked about this very issue and...

GREENE: Right - and said something different.

MCCAMMON: Right. And he said, I'll answer that question at the right time. I just don't want to answer it yet. So apparently, the right time was this morning.

GREENE: The right time was this morning. And, I mean, it's - what did he say about the timing of this? I mean, it just seems like it's - you know, I mean, we've been watching a television screen for the last half-hour in here, talking about whether Donald Trump was going to address the birther question. I mean, he's at his hotel here in Washington, D.C. He's appearing with veterans. He's getting a lot of airtime here.

MCCAMMON: He certainly is. And, you know, he himself said on Fox this morning that he wanted to sort of keep the suspense. And, you know, he is opening up a new hotel in Washington, D.C., in an old post office building.

This event was - you know, he'd hinted that he would probably talk about the birther question. But it was also billed as an event to honor veterans. But I have to say, David, he's getting a lot of attention for this project. And he opened up this press conference honoring veterans by talking about how great the hotel looks.

He did, ultimately, get around to addressing this birther question. But he did something that his campaign has been doing since last night, which is blaming Hillary Clinton, he says, for starting the birther controversy.

GREENE: For starting this rumor about President Obama.

MCCAMMON: Right. Which is...

GREENE: Is that - is there any truth to that whatsoever?

MCCAMMON: There is not. This is untrue. He said, Hillary Clinton started it. I finished it, meaning he gave himself credit for getting President Obama to release his birth certificate. Now, it's not true that Hillary Clinton started it.

Multiple fact-checking sites, including PolitiFact and factcheck.org have looked into this and found that while some of her supporters in the 2008 campaign did put this idea out there, her campaign has never been tied to it.

It's also not true that Donald Trump finished it because in the past couple of years in interviews and on Twitter, he has repeatedly questioned or failed to - at least failed to come out and say that President Obama was born here, as we know he was.

GREENE: We still have the televisions on in here. And we should say that Trump finally admits Obama was born in the United States is the banner headline across CNN. So this issue, at least, is remaining in the news. And so we'll see where it goes from here and how long it stays there.

MCCAMMON: Indeed.

GREENE: All right. NPR's Sarah McCammon talking to us about Donald Trump's event just moments ago here in Washington, D.C. Sarah, thanks a lot.

MCCAMMON: Thanks. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.