In an interview with The Daily Beast Friday, real estate mogul and Mitt Romney surrogate Donald Trump doubled-down on his fact-challenged claim that President Obama was not born in the U.S. — a claim that the Romney presidential campaign, currently raffling off a dinner with Trump and Romney to raise money for the campaign, made no effort to condemn.
“A book publisher came out three days ago and said that in his written synopsis of his book, he said he was born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia. His mother never spent a day in the hospital,” Trump told The Daily Beast’s Lloyd Grove.
As Grove pointed out, that’s not even an accurate re-telling of the latest birther “evidence,” in which Obama’s literary agency two decades ago published a catalogue of clients that included the false information that he had been born in Kenya. A woman named Miriam Goderich has since come forward and said the error was hers.
“That’s what he told the literary agent,” Trump told Grove. “That’s the way life works… He didn’t know he was running for president, so he told the truth. The literary agent wrote down what he said… He said he was born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia… Now they’re saying it was a mistake. Just like his Kenyan grandmother said he was born in Kenya, and she pointed down the road to the hospital, and after people started screaming at her she said, ‘Oh, I mean Hawaii.’ Give me a break.”
One might think, given the ample evidence that the president was born in Hawaii — long-form birth certificate, contemporaneous newspaper accounts — and the ugly side of the zeitgeist that “birther” claims uncover, that the Romney campaign would be quick to distance the candidate from Mr. Trump – especially given how quickly the Romney campaign jumped on the remarks of Democratic activist Hilary Rosen when she seemed to belittle stay-at-home mothers.
One might think that given how much the Romney campaign was quick to demand that then-rival, Texas Governor Rick Perry, distance himself from a pastor who called Mormonism a “cult” – and the concerns of Romney campaign officials that Democrats will attempt to use bigotry against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Saints against Romney — they would be sensitive to this issue.
But one would be wrong.
In addition to the dinner with Romney and Trump later in June, Romney will appear on Tuesday with Trump at his hotel in Las Vegas. And the campaign made no effort to distance itself from Trump when asked if the association wasn’t “embarrassing” for Romney by CNN’s Gloria Borger on Friday afternoon.
Senior Romney campaign adviser Eric Fehrnstrom said, “I can’t speak for Donald Trump, Gloria, but I can tell you that Mitt Romney accepts that President Obama was born in the United States. He doesn’t view the place of his birth as an issue in this campaign. We have many serious challenges facing this country dealing with jobs and the economy. That’s where we should center our- the discussion. And as I said, you know, Mitt Romney has made it clear that this is not an issue for him.
Fehrnstrom, asked about the campaign’s association with Trump, said, “Well, you know, not too long ago, Jay Carney, the spokesman for the White House made a statement which I think is correct, and that statement was that a candidate can’t be responsible for everything that their supporters say.”
That’s a reference to the “Hoffa Standard,” from Labor Day 2011, when White House press secretary Jay Carney refused to condemn incendiary remarks made by a labor leader attacking members of the Tea Party at an event where the president spoke.
“Donald Trump has become the birther-in-chief,” Obama campain spokesman Ben LaBolt said on MSNBC. “I could put the President’s birth certificate on my forehead and Mr. Trump wouldn’t accept that the President was born here in the United States. And it raises a question that’s come up before during this campaign as to whether Governor Romney will embrace the extreme voices in his party or stand up to them.”