US Elections

Friday 25 July 2014

Romney facing calls to dump Trump over birther row

Peter Foster in Washington

Published 30/05/2012|05:00

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US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Photo: Reuters

Mitt Romney is under pressure to cut links with Donald Trump after he refused to denounce the businessman for continuing to propagate the so-called "birther conspiracy" that President Barack Obama was born outside the US.

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The row over Mr Trump threatened to engulf Mr Romney on the day that he was officially confirmed as the Republican presidential candidate after voters in the Texas presidential primary secured the 1,144 delegates he needed to clinch the nomination.

Mr Romney, a guest of Mr Trump at a $2m (€1.6m) fundraising event in Las Vegas last night, declined to criticise the property mogul for saying last week that he still believes Mr Obama was born in Kenya.

"I don't agree with all the people who support me and my guess is they don't all agree with everything I believe," Mr Romney said. "But I need to get 50.1pc or more and I'm appreciative to have the help of a lot of good people."

Repeating the conspiracy theories over Mr Obama's birth has been condemned as "dog whistle politics" -- or a thinly-veiled attack on the president's race -- and leaves Mr Romney vulnerable to accusations that he is tacitly defending racism.

Although Mr Romney has said that he accepts that Mr Obama was born in Hawaii, his response to Mr Trump provoked fierce criticism from both the Obama campaign and commentators in his own party.

The Obama camp released a video comparing Mr Romney's refusal to distance himself from Mr Trump with the conduct of John McCain, the 2008 Republican candidate, who on several occasions publicly slapped down voters who suggested that Mr Obama was not American-born and was a Muslim.

"McCain stood up to the voices of extremism in his party," said an on-screen caption in between clips of Mr Trump repeating the claims and Mr McCain knocking it down, "Why won't Mitt Romney do the same?"

However, the Romney campaign, which polls show is locked in an almost dead-heat battle with Mr Obama, appears determined not to drop Mr Trump, who lends some star power in his lead role in the US version of 'The Apprentice' to the ticket.

The "birther conspiracy" was supposedly laid to rest in 2011 after the White House published the long version of Mr Obama's birth certificate.

Mistake

However, the story was revived earlier this month after the conservative website Breitbart.com discovered that Mr Obama's literary agency had described him in its catalogue of authors as "Born in Kenya".

The author of the catalogue biography quickly issued a statement describing the 'blurb' as a "simple mistake" and a "fact-checking error" and stating that Mr Obama had not provided the information on which the entry was based.

However, Mr Trump said he was not convinced. "That's the way life works. He didn't know he was running for president, so he told the truth," he said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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