A birther no more? Rudy Giuliani says Donald Trump is now convinced that President Barack Obama was born in the United States, even though Trump has refused to discuss the topic.
Trump, who famously questioned Obama’s birthplace and said he was dispatching investigators to Hawaii (Obama’s birthstate) to investigate the matter, has refused to talk about the issue on the campaign trail, saying it’s a distraction.
But in a contentious interview with MSNBC, the former New York mayor and close Trump ally said he could confirm that Trump now believes Obama was born in the U.S.
“Yes, he believes,” Giuliani Thursday night told Hardball host Chris Matthews. “Donald Trump believes now that (Obama) was born in the United States.”
Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway wouldn’t say Friday why Trump has refused to admit he was wrong.
“He believes President Obama was born here, I was born in Camden, by the way, New Jersey. He was born in Hawaii,” Conway said on CNN. “The point is, ‘What kind of president has he been? He’s not been a particularly successful president and that’s what this campaign has been about.”
She insisted that “birtherism” is not a pertinent issue for most voters, although Trump once devoted considerable resources to it, telling reporters in 2011 that he had sent a team of his own investigators to Hawaii in hopes of resolving the issue.
Trump insisted at the time that it could be “one of the greatest scams in the history of politics and in the history, period. You are not allowed to be a president if you're not born in this country. Right now, I have real doubts."
Giuliani said Trump came around to the idea of Obama as U.S.-born “two years ago, three years ago” -- but Matthews noted that Trump “has never said that,” adding that he’s been “waiting for him to do it.”
Giuliani also blamed Hillary Clinton’s campaign for igniting the controversy over Obama’s birthplace in the first place, though Matthews said that was not true. (As have fact checkers.)
“There's no evidence,” Matthews said. “You are wrong on the fact here, Mr. Mayor.”
Matthews asked when Trump planned to say that Obama is legitimate after years of questioning his ability to hold office, but Giuliani did not say. Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii on Aug. 4, 1961, despite allegations from birthers — including Trump — who charged that he was likely born in his father’s native Kenya, despite all evidence to the contrary. The White House released the president’s long-form birth certificate in 2011.
Obama’s campaign in June 2008 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 confirmed Obama was born in the state. In addition, reporters and others found newspaper birth announcements for Obama that were published in Honolulu newspapers soon after his Aug. 4, 1961, birth.
It wasn’t enough for Trump, who pressed for Obama to release more proof. And now the Republican presidential nominee believes Obama was born in the U.S., Giuliani said.
“I believe it. He believes it. We all believe it. But it took a long time to get it out,” Giuliani said of Obama’s birth certificate and touting that it was Trump who “got him to finally produce the birth certificate.”
But Matthews pointed out that Trump had said even after Obama released his birth certificate that he didn’t accept it as conclusive.
“Can you commit to your candidate saying within the next 24 hours that President Obama is a legitimate president?” Matthews asked him.
Giuliani insisted Trump has “said it already,” but Matthews challenged him again: “No, he hasn’t.”
And Giuliani insisted that Hillary Clinton's campaign had been “the first one to do it because all she does is engage in negative campaigning against Barack Obama and against Donald Trump.”
Matthews was not having it: “First of all, she has never said that. And your candidate has on numerous occasions. And I'm asking you the final word, we will end this back and forth. Can you say authoritatively on behalf of Donald Trump that he was wrong in saying the president was born in another country? Can you say that now?”
Giuliani persisted: “I believe he picked up on what Hillary Clinton's campaign said. He pushed Obama, Obama finally produced the birth certificate. And it showed he was born in Hawaii.”
Giuliani said Trump has told him he’s “proud of the fact that he finally got Obama to produce his birth certificate.”
He tried several times again to blame Clinton for raising the issue in the first place, but Matthews again rejected it: “Let me just tell you, there's no record at all, Mr. Mayor, on the record right now, we checked this before you came on ... there is absolutely no record ever of Hillary Clinton or anyone in her campaign ever saying that President Obama is not legitimate.”