Donald Trump: Barack Obama was born in the United States, period
Published 16/09/2016 | 05:51
Donald Trump has admitted that US president Barack Obama was born in the United States and claimed credit for putting the issue to rest.
After five years as the chief promoter of the false idea that the president was not born in the country, Mr Trump said: "President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period."
Mr Trump went on: "Now we all want to get back to making America strong and great again."
But as he sought to put that to rest, he claimed the "birther movement" was started by rival Hillary Clinton. There is no evidence that is true.
"Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy. I finished it," Mr Trump said. "I finished it, you know what I mean."
The Republican candidate spoke against a backdrop of veterans in a sprawling ballroom at his new Washington hotel.
His short statement came after a lengthy campaign event featuring military officers and award winners who have endorsed him.
Mr Trump did not address the issue until the end of the event, turning it into a de facto advert. The major cable TV networks aired it live in anticipation of his comments as it had been hyped hours before.
"I'm going to be making a major statement on this whole thing and what Hillary did," he told the Fox Business Network. "We have to keep the suspense going, OK?"
Mrs Clinton said Mr Trump owes Mr Obama and the American people an apology.
Speaking at an event with black women, she said that his campaign was "founded on this outrageous lie. There is no erasing it in history".
She said Mr Trump is "feeding into the worst impulses, the bigotry and bias that lurks in our country".
The birther idea, which he now denies, provided Mr Trump with his entry into Republican politics. For years he has defined his status as an "outsider" who is willing to challenge convention.
As late as Wednesday, he would not acknowledge that Mr Obama was born in Hawaii, declining to address the matter in a Washington Post interview.
"I'll answer that question at the right time," he said. "I just don't want to answer it yet."
Mrs Clinton seized on Trump's refusal during a speech on Thursday night before the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.
"He was asked one more time where was President Obama born and he still wouldn't say Hawaii. He still wouldn't say America," she said. "This man wants to be our next president? When will he stop this ugliness, this bigotry?"
Hours later, campaign spokesman Jason Miller issued a statement that suggested the question had been settled five years ago - by Trump.
"In 2011, Mr Trump was finally able to bring this ugly incident to its conclusion by successfully compelling President Obama to release his birth certificate," Mr Miller said.
"Mr Trump did a great service to the president and the country by bringing closure to the issue that Hillary Clinton and her team first raised," he added.
"Inarguably, Donald J Trump is a closer. Having successfully obtained President Obama's birth certificate when others could not, Mr Trump believes that President Obama was born in the United States."
The facts of Mr Trump's actions do not match Mr Miller's description. He repeatedly questioned Mr Obama's birth in the years after he released his birth certificate.
In August 2012, for example, he was pushing the issue on Twitter. "An 'extremely credible source' has called my office and told me that @BarackObama's birth certificate is a fraud," he wrote.
Mr Trump's comments speculating on Mr Obama's birthplace have been seen by many as an attempt to delegitimise the nation's first black president.
They have turned off many of the African-American voters he is now courting in his bid for the White House.
Mr Obama attacked Mr Trump, saying: "We're not going to be able to solve our problems if we get distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers."
"I was pretty confident about where I was born. I think most people were as well," he said.
Mr Miller's claim that Mrs Clinton launched the birther movement during her unsuccessful primary run against Mr Obama in 2008 is unsubstantiated and long denied.
The theory was pushed by some bloggers who backed Mrs Clinton's primary campaign eight years ago, but Clinton has said Mr Trump "promoted the racist lie" that sought to "delegitimise America's first black president".
On Twitter Mrs Clinton said the news conference about Mr Obama's citizenship was a "disgrace" and Mr Trump had expressed "zero regret" for years of "pushing a racist conspiracy theory".
Mrs Clinton said that when Mr Trump tries to "deflect blame" for denying that Mr Obama was born in the US, her Republican opponent "is lying".
And trying to say that Trump "did a great service" to Mr Obama "is asinine".
Mrs Clinton's campaign manager Robby Mook said that after five years of "pushing a racist conspiracy theory into the mainstream, it was appalling to watch Trump appoint himself the judge of whether the president of the United States is American".
He said the "sickening display" showed why "Trump is totally unfit be president".
First Lady Michelle Obama said her husband has responded to those who question whether he was born in the US by "going high when they go low".
Mrs Obama was in northern Virginia, headlining her first campaign rally for Mrs Clinton.
She said there were those who continue to challenge her husband's citizenship "up to this very day". She did not mention Mr Trump by name.