By George E. Curry
On the heels of allowing a campaign follower in New Hampshire to assert unchallenged last week that President Obama is a Muslim, Republican presidential front-runner Donald J. Trump has strongly resisted opportunities to correct the public record. On ABC’s This Week, George Stephanapolous repeatedly challenged Trump Sunday to take back his words and in true Trump fashion, he refused.
STEPHANOPOULOS: … So, for the record, was President Obama born in the United States?
TRUMP: Well you know I don’t get into it, George. I talk about jobs, I’m talking about the military. I don’t get into it. I mean, they ask that question and I just want to talk about the things, because frankly, it’s of no longer interest to me [sic]. We’re beyond that, and it’s just something I don’t talk about. I want to talk about the military, I want to talk about the vets and how badly they’re treated, I want to talk about jobs. I don’t get into that, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well the way to get beyond that is to answer yes or no, do you–
TRUMP: Well that’s possible, but I don’t get into it and I just don’t talk about it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And, even though you’ve raised questions, and you’ve investigated this in the past, you’re still–
TRUMP: Well, you know people thought I should have defended, some people thought I should have defended the president in terms of the question that was asked the other night, and my attitude is, would he have done that for me if somebody had said that about me? And you know, he’s been – he’s very capable of defending himself, believe me. So we’ll see what happens, but I think the tweets really covered it very well and very accurately. Somebody said they were excellent, they covered the subject, and I actually, it was very interesting because I got in hot water over not saying anything. The first time it’s ever happened to me. I didn’t say anything, and everybody was going crazy over the weekend. And this is something where I didn’t even say anything.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But, I take that point, but you’ve raised these questions so often in the past. Why can’t you just say definitively, yes or no, President Obama was born in the United States, you’ve raised it many times, and he’s not a Muslim.
TRUMP: George you have raised a question. I haven’t raised a question. I don’t talk about it, and I don’t like talking about somebody else’s faith. He talks about his faith, and he can do that. But I don’t talk about other people’s faith. It’s not appropriate for me to talk about somebody else’s faith.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The other big premise of that question is he says that Muslims are a problem in this country. Do you agree?
TRUMP: Well, in some cases George. We can say no, and you can be politically correct and you can say everything’s wonderful, but I haven’t seen people from Sweden going back and leaving after the bombing of the World Trade Center. So certainly it’s a problem, and there is a problem–
One of Trump’s many problems is that, aided and abetted by Fox News, he has been a leading proponent of the birther movement, even hiring private investigators to go to Hawaii in an effort to disprove that Obama was born there.
FactCheck.org dismissed the false conspiracy claims about Obama’s birth certificate.
It reported, “FactCheck.org staffers have now seen, touched, examined and photographed the original birth certificate. We conclude that it meets all of the requirements from the State Department for proving U.S. citizenship. Claims that the document lacks a raised seal or a signature are false. We have posted high-resolution photographs of the document as ‘supporting documents’ to this article. Our conclusion: Obama was born in the U.S.A. just as he has always said.”
That still did not quell the attacks.
Media Matters, the watchdog group, found that, “Fox continued to hype Trump’s birtherism, promoting the birther myth in no fewer than 52 segments over a two month period.”
It explained, that “the vast majority of the time – 44 out of 52 total segments in which a false claim was made about Obama’s birth certificate – Fox News hosts did not push back and correct these falsehoods.”
General Colin Powell, the former Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff and former Secretary of State, took the right tone when he said:
“I’m also troubled by … what members of my own party say. And it is permitted to be said such things as, ‘Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.’ Well, the correct answer is, he’s not a Muslim, he’s a Christian. He’s always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no, that’s not America.”