Esther Yu Hsi Lee/Think Progress:
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump no longer believes that President Barack Obama was born in Kenya, according to campaign manager Kellyanne Conway.
“He believes President Obama was born here,” Conway said during an interview with CNN host Chris Cuomo on Friday. “He was born in Hawaii. The point is what kind of president has he been…No question, he was born in the United States. He has not been a particularly successful president. That’s what this campaign is about, on our side.”
Trump has long pushed the birther conspiracy — a thoroughly debunked rumor that Obama was born abroad and thus ineligible for the American presidency. Back in 2011, Trump derided Obama for months as an illegitimate president. Even after the White House released Obama’s birth certificate, Trump told then-NBC Today host Meredith Vieira, “a birth certificate is not even close. A certificate of live birth is not even signed by anybody. I read it. It doesn’t have a serial number. It doesn’t have a signature.”
Despite a cascade of proof countering his claim, Trump continued to push his conspiracy theory into 2014.
Trump has yet to renounce the birther claims himself this week, even as his campaign advisers, surrogates, and his running mate repudiated the conspiracy theory on his behalf.
“Donald Trump believes now that [Obama] was born in the United States,” former New York City Major Rudy Giuliani confirmed on MSBNC’s “Hardball” with Chris Matthews on Thursday night during a lengthy exchange. “I believe it, he believes it, we all believe it. But it took a long time to get it out.”
Trump’s running mate Mike Pence told reporters on Wednesday, “Well I believe Barack Obama was born in Hawaii, I accept his birthplace.” But Pence did not directly answer a question on whether Trump should apologize for his birther comments.
Ben Carson, a Trump surrogate, agreed with a CNN host that it “would be a good idea” for Trump to retire the birther nonsense and apologize.
“I think that would be a good idea, absolutely. I suggest that on all sides. Let’s get all of the hate and rancor out of the way so that we can actually discuss the issues,” Carson said in an interview with CNN on Tuesday.
Trump’s conspiracy has gained prominence among Trump’s core, white supporters — as the New York Times reported— which gave people a way to reject the country’s first black president.
In the birther movement, Mr. Trump recognized an opportunity to connect with the electorate over an issue many considered taboo: the discomfort, in some quarters of American society, with the election of the nation’s first black president. He harnessed it for political gain, beginning his connection with the largely white Republican base that, in his 2016 campaign, helped clinch his party’s nomination.Meanwhile, Donald Trump has been silent about the immigration status of his wife, Melania. She allegedly arrived in the U.S. in 1995 for a photo shoot, one year before she has publicly stated.