In case anyone had doubts, Donald Trump on Wednesday clarified that the only reason he recently disavowed birtherism was that he was tired of being asked about it.
Asked what inspired the Republican nominee to announce on Friday that he now believed President Barack Obama was born in the U.S., Trump was characteristically frank.
“Well, I just wanted to get on with, you know, we want to get on with the campaign,” he said in an interview with Toledo ABC affiliate WSYX.
“And a lot of people were asking me questions,” Trump continued. “And you know, we want to talk about jobs, we want to talk about the military. We want to talk about ISIS and how to get rid of ISIS. We want to really talk about bringing jobs back to this area because you’ve been decimated. So we really want to get just back onto the subject of jobs, military, taking care of our vets, et cetera.”
Trump served as a loudspeaker for the birther movement for the past five years, but distanced himself from the issue after journalists pressed him about it on the campaign trail. The real estate mogul and his surrogates would tell reporters that he no longer talked about where Obama was born or if his birth certificate was forged.
Yet Trump’s claims that he stopped talking about the issue years ago were belied by his many tweets on the subject and his refusal last week to give a straight answer to a Washington Post reporter asking if he believed Obama was born in Hawaii.
The real estate mogul pulled an elaborate stunt at his new D.C. hotel on Friday, telling the media he planned to give a “major announcement” about his birther views. Instead, Trump boasted about the amenities offered at Trump International hotel and brought out a parade of military generals who heaped praise on him as cable cameras rolled. After securing this free media coverage, he said in the last 30 seconds of the event, “President Barack Obama was born in the United States. Period.”
Trump then left the room, refusing to take questions from reporters.
This cursory disavowal of birtherism, which came with no explanation for why his views had changed, failed to convince Trump’s detractors. Trump has taken no questions on the subject in the days since.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign on Wednesday said Trump’s most recent comments on birtherism revealed he was just trying to paper over years of controversial remarks.
“After spending 5 years championing a conspiracy theory to undermine our first African American President, Donald Trump hasn’t actually changed his mind,” spokesman Jesse Ferguson said in a statement. “He only gave his 36-second press statement last week to try to change the subject — and it didn’t work.”