In 2011, Donald Trump, host of NBC’s “The Apprentice,” was thinking of running for President against Barack Obama.
Seeking to gain popularity among America’s Right-wing, Trump almost singlehandedly created the popular fiction that the President was born in Kenya–and was not an American citizen.
His motive: To convince Americans that Obama was an illegitimate President.
Among the statements Trump made:
February 10, 2011: “Our current president came out of nowhere. Came out of nowhere. In fact, I’ll go a step further: The people that went to school with him, they never saw him, they don’t know who he is. It’s crazy.”
March 23, 2011: “I want him to show his birth certificate. I want him to show his birth certificate. … There’s something on that birth certificate that he doesn’t like.”
March 28, 2011: “I am really concerned” [that Obama wasn’t born in the United States]. He said that the birth announcement for Obama in a Hawaii newspaper could have been planted “for whatever reason.”
March 30, 2011: “If you are going to be president of the United States you have to be born in this country. And there is a doubt as to whether or not he was. … He doesn’t have a birth certificate. He may have one, but there’s something on that, maybe religion, maybe it says he is a Muslim. I don’t know. Maybe he doesn’t want that. Or he may not have one. But I will tell you this. If he wasn’t born in this country, it’s one of the great scams of all time.”
April 7, 2011: “I have people that have been studying it, and they cannot believe what they’re finding. You are not allowed to be a president if you’re not born in this country. Right now I have real doubts.”
April 25, 2011: “I’ve been told very recently…that the birth certificate is missing. I’ve been told that it’s not there or it doesn’t exist. And if that’s the case, it’s a big problem.”
On April 27, President Obama released his original, long-form Hawiian birth certificate.
The long-form version of President Obama’s birth certificate
“We do not have time for this kind of silliness,” said Obama at a press conference, speaking as a father might to a roomful of spiteful children. “We have better stuff to do. I have got better stuff to do. We have got big problems to solve.
“We are not going to be able to do it if we are distracted, we are not going to be able to do it if we spend time vilifying each other…if we just make stuff up and pretend that facts are not facts, we are not going to be able to solve our problems if we get distracted by side shows and carnival barkers.”
And on May 1, he announced the solving of one of those “big problems”: Osama bin Laden, mastermind of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, had been tracked down and shot dead by elite U.S. Navy SEALS in Pakistan.
SEALS attacking bin Laden’s compound in the 2012 movie, “Zero Dark Thirty”
And how did Trump respond? With the following series of Tweets on Twitter:
August 6, 2012: “An ‘extremely credible source’ has called my office and told me that @BarackObama‘s birth certificate is a fraud.”
August 27, 2012: “Why do the Republicans keep apologizing on the so called “birther” issue? No more apologies–take the offensive!”
September 13, 2012: “Wake Up America! See article: “Israeli Science: Obama Birth Certificate is a Fake”
August 22, 2013: “Why are people upset w/ me over Pres Obama’s birth certificate? I got him to release it, or whatever it was, when nobody else could!”
December 12, 2013: “How amazing, the State Health Director who verified copies of Obama’s “birth certificate” died in plane crash today. All others lived”
Even after declaring his candidacy for President on June 16, 2015, Trump continued to insist that Barack Obama was an illegitimate President.
Meanwhile, Trump’s popularity among blacks had steadily fallen. In June, 2016, a Quinnipiac poll revealed that Trump had 1% of support from black voters. By comparison, 91% of black voters backed Hillary Clinton.
Among the reasons for this:
- His enthusiastic support by racist white supremacist organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party.
- His “birther” attacks on President Obama as a non-citizen from Kenya–and thus ineligible to hold the Presidency.
- His attacks on the Black Lives Matter movement and calling on his supporters at rallies to rough up minority protesters.
Even the managers of Trump’s campaign urged him to put the “birther” issue behind him.
And so, on September 16–10 days before his scheduled first debate with Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton–Trump made his version of a reversal.