Franklin Graham gave his blessing Sunday to possible Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, saying he likes what the billionaire is saying and that Trump could end up being his preferred candidate.
"When I first saw that he was getting in, I thought, 'Well, this has got to be a joke,'" the Boone-based evangelist told ABC's Christiane Amanpour. "But the more you listen to him, the more you say to yourself, 'You know? Maybe the guy's right.'"
Asked by Amanpour whether Trump - who's promoting accusations that President Barack Obama was not born in America - might be Graham's choice for 2012, he responded: "Sure, yes, sure."
There was no discussion of how Graham, a conservative Christian, could support a thrice-married owner of gambling casinos.
Graham, who heads Samaritan's Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, has become an increasingly controversial figure in recent years because of his embrace of arguments advanced by hard-right groups. He has said, for example, that Islam is a "wicked" religion and that Obama was "born a Muslim."
On Sunday, during his appearance on ABC's "This Week," Graham appeared to question Democrat Obama's Christianity and said "the country is in big trouble" under Obama's leadership. He also refused to dismiss unsubstantiated charges - lately pressed by Trump - that Obama has yet to produce a valid birth certificate. If Obama was not born in the United States, he would not be eligible, according to the Constitution, to serve as president.
"The president ... has some issues to deal with here," Graham said. "He can solve this whole birth certificate issue pretty quickly. I was born in a hospital in Asheville, North Carolina, and I know that my records are there. You can probably even go and find out what room my mother was in when I was born. I don't know why he can't produce that ... It's an issue that looks like he could answer pretty quickly."
Actually, in June 2008, the Obama-for-president campaign did put his "certificate of live birth" from Hawaii - the only form of birth certificate the state publicly issues - on the Internet. Since then, Hawaii Department of Health officials have confirmed Obama was born in the state.
In addition, reporters and others have found newspaper birth announcements for Obama that were published in Honolulu newspapers soon after his Aug. 4, 1961, birth.
In immersing himself in politics, Graham is following in his father's footsteps - but also disregarding Billy Graham's recent comment that he should have stayed out of politics.
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