The public revival of the so-called “birther” question among some Republicans plays to his political advantage, President Obama says.
Obama told ABC News interviewer George Stephanopoulos that Donald Trump and others are doing themselves no favors in persisting on the issue of the president’s background.
“I think that over the last two and a half years there's been an effort to go at me in a way that is politically expedient in the short-term for Republicans, but creates, I think a problem for them when they want to actually run in a general election where most people feel pretty confident the President was born where he says he was, in Hawaii. He doesn't have horns,” Obama said in the ABC interview.
“We may disagree with him on some issues and we may wish that you know, the unemployment rate was coming down faster and we want him to know his plan on gas prices. But we're not really worrying about conspiracy theories or-- or birth certificates. And so-- I-- I think it presents a problem for them.”
For Obama, the birth-certificate sideshow has become a punch line. Speaking at a fundraiser in Chicago Thursday evening, the president said. “I grew up here in Chicago. I wasn’t born here.” The crowd laughed.
“Just want to be clear,” he said. “I was born in Hawaii. But I became a man here in Chicago.”
Meanwhile, Trump is working the question of his GOP presidential aspirations to his full ratings-seeking advantage. He told Bill Carter of the New York Times Thursday that he may make some sort of announcement regarding his political future on his NBC show “Celebrity Apprentice.”
(And, he just got us to mention the show. He’s a genius.)
But Trump has to be careful about federal rules that require networks to provide equal time for presidential candidates—so it’s not as if Trump can declare that he’s running for president at the end of the show, even though NBC no doubt would love for him to.
“I believe I can say I will be announcing my decision in a few days,” Trump told the New York Times. “But before I did that I would get the approval of NBC.”
The network said that as long as Trump does not become a formal candidate for president, equal time rules do not kick it.
And, by the way, there’s no truth to the rumor that Haley Barbour is working up an NBC reality show about coaching a group of ragtag orphans in a community basketball league.