NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump says he finally admitted President Barack Obama was born in the United States because he wanted to “get on with the campaign.”
In a brief interview with an Ohio television station Wednesday, Trump was asked why, after years as the chief proponent of the falsehood that the president was born outside the country, he decided to announce Friday that was no longer the case.
What had changed his mind?
“Well, I just wanted to get on with, you know, we want to get on with the campaign,” the GOP nominee responded.
“And a lot of people were asking me questions. And you know, we want to talk about jobs, we want to talk about the military,” he added. “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.”
It was a frank statement of apparent political expediency for the billionaire businessman, who for five years had raised questions and insinuations about the president’s birthplace and the authenticity of his birth certificate. The so-called “birther” movement helped fuel Trump’s political rise, transforming him from a reality television star into a popular political figure in some Republican circles.
On Friday, Trump declared at a campaign event: “President Barack Obama was born in the United States. Period.” But he did not address how or when he’d come to his conclusion, and had not answered questions on the topic since.
His rival Hillary Clinton’s campaign said in a statement that Trump’s answer was proof that he had only voiced his reversal to try to change the subject.
“After spending 5 years championing a conspiracy theory to undermine our first African American President, DonaldTrump 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.”