BOCA RATON, FL — Pushing back against calls from Republicans to abandon his new-found birther quest, Donald Trump snapped back Saturday at party leaders like House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) who accuse him of being less than serious about his presidential ambitions, warning Republicans that abandoning the conspiracy theories surrounding President Obama’s birth certificate will harm the party.
In an exclusive interview with TPM recorded before Trump spoke to what those in attendance called a record crowd at the Palm Beach County Tax Day Tea Party rally, Trump said Republicans like Cantor dismiss the birther issue at their peril.
“I think it’s a very bad thing for Cantor to have done,” Trump said, “because I’ll tell you, people love this issue especially in the Republican Party. And there’s something to what we’re saying.”
Last week, Cantor went farther than most mainline Republicans have in dismissing the Trump quasi-campaign. He told CNN that Trump’s embrace of birtherism is a sure sign Trump is fooling around.
“I don’t think he is really serious when we see a campaign launch on the birther issue,” Cantor said.
Other mainstream Republicans joined the chorus as polls showing Trump leading the Republican presidential field made headlines at the end of the week. On Friday, Karl Rove told Fox News Trump is a “joke candidate” because of his birther-centric media cavalcade.
“He’s off there in the nutty right, and is now an inconsequential candidate,” Rove said.
Today in Boca, Trump seemed to relish the criticism from members of his own party. In his speech to the tea party rally, he excoriated Rove. The tea partiers, no fans of Rove from back in the days of Christine O’Donnell, booed Rove’s name when Trump mentioned it.
“It’s amazing,” Trump said. “He’s so against me, because I am questioning. All I want to see is the guy’s birth certificate.”
“The Republicans have to be very careful of him,” Trump continued. “Because obviously Karl Rove hasn’t been doing very well the last couple of years…Whether you like it or not, George Bush gave us Obama, and I’m not having that.”