Romney’s “Moral Failure” to Challenge Trump on Birther Conspiracies

Birth certificate of Barack Obama

— by David A. Harris

Leave it to Mitt Romney to bring me together in agreement with George Will, who yesterday called Donald Trump a “bloviating ignoramus.”

It is disturbing in the extreme that too many Americans already harbor any thought that our president is not an American — particularly after the release of the long-form birth certificate, which one might think would have shut down the birther cottage industry. That this lunacy would actually be advanced by Mitt Romney’s surrogate and fundraising headliner du jour — the nutty Trump, who offensively doubled-down on his crazy birther questions even this morning — is just astonishing given that we’re talking about the GOP standard-bearer.

The most important thing here is what this says about Mitt Romney: when confronted by press with the inevitable questions, does he separate from Trump? Does he even appropriately challenge these outlandish claims, as John McCain did in 2008? No — he takes some variation of the “I don’t agree with every supporter” line. It’s an utter moral failure, plain and simple. What will hurt Romney most in the eyes of some independent voters is his refusal to stand up and say the right thing — to do anything, really — out of an apparent fear of offending the most extreme radical fringe of his party.

Originally published in Politico. David A. Harris is the President and CEO of the NJDC

Fact Check: Birther Debate

Trump, who is considering a run for president, said in a telephone interview on the program that he would not back off the issue, and that over the last few weeks he has only become more skeptical that Obama was born in the U.S.

Donald Trump’s claims have been debunked by repeatedly. See for example PolitiFact, CNN, and Snopes.

Obama’s birth certificate follows the jump along with more comments from PolitiFact.

Trump also defended his position, saying, “His grandmother in Kenya said, ‘Oh no, he was born in Kenya and I was there and I witnessed the birth.’ Now, she’s on tape and I think that tape’s going to be produced fairly soon …The grandmother in Kenya is on record saying he was born in Kenya.”

Trump made an identical claim in a Today Show interview the same morning: “His grandmother in Kenya said he was born in Kenya and she was there and witnessed the birth, okay?”

This is actually an old claim that has been bouncing around the Internet for years. But keeping up with the latest birther claims is often like playing Whac-A-Mole, and we never got around to this one. So here we go.

The claim is based on an Oct. 16, 2008, telephone call between Bishop Ron McRae of the Anabaptist Churches of North America and Sarah Obama of Kenya, Barack Obama’s elderly step-grandmother. The interview is complicated by the addition of at least one translator, because Sarah Obama, then 86, spoke Swahili.

The edited portion that often makes the rounds on the Internet includes this part of the interview:

McRae: “Could I ask her about his actual birthplace? I would like to see his birthplace when I come to visit Kenya in December. Was she present when he was born in Kenya?”

“She says yes she was. She was present when Obama was born,” said the translator.

Smoking gun? Only if you stop the tape there and don’t listen to the rest of the interview.

McRae immediately followed up by saying, “Okay, when I come in December, I would like to go by the place, the hospital where he was born. Could you tell me where he was born? Was he born in Mombasa?”

The translator can be heard translating, and then, he said, “No. Obama was not born in Mombasa. He was born in America.”

Said McRae: “Whereabouts was he born? I thought he was born in Kenya.”

The response came back, “He was born in America, not in Mombasa.”

“Do you know where he was born?” McRae continued. “I thought he was born in Kenya. I was gonna go by and see where he was born.”

“Hawaii. She says he was born in Hawaii,” the translator said. “In the state of Hawaii, where his father, his father was also learning there. The state of Hawaii.”

“I thought she said she was present,” McRae said. “Was she able to see him being born in Hawaii?”

“No, no,” the translator said. “…She was not … she was here in Kenya. Obama was born in America … Because the grandmother was back in Kenya and Obama was born in America, where he is from, where his father was learning, learning in America, the United States.”

Listen to the full conversation yourself. The parts in question begin about the 4:20 mark.