Trump’s Birther Claim Likely Undermines Romney, Say Strategists
(NEW YORK) — Donald Trump has become so unrelentingly fixated on his theory about President Obama’s birthplace that he was called “ridiculous” by Wolf Blitzer Tuesday.
It’s hard to see how Trump’s repeated claims that Obama was born in Kenya help Mitt Romney, say strategists on both sides, as a Trump fundraiser for the candidate gets underway in Las Vegas Tuesday night. Their newfound association has spurred a barrage of attacks from the Obama campaign, as it ties Romney to the birther movement’s most prominent spokesman.
Obama campaign manager Jim Messina tweeted on Twitter, “Two words define Mitt Romney today: Donald Trump.”
That was right after Trump completed his second TV interview of the day, not backing down on his unfounded birther theory in an exchange with Blitzer on CNN.
“Donald, you’re beginning to sound a little ridiculous, I have to tell you,” Blitzer said.
“You are, Wolf,” the Donald shot back. “Let me tell you something. I think you sound ridiculous.”
It didn’t get much better. Trump said that “everyone is entitled to their own opinion,” and that many people have questioned the legitimacy of Obama’s birth certificate. When he was asked to say who, Trump replied, “I don’t give names.”
Romney’s charter flight landed in Las Vegas Tuesday afternoon right next to Trump’s plane.
Trump might be happy to be grabbing so many headlines, but some might say there was another winner Tuesday: President Obama — because the day after Memorial Day Trump has made the narrative not about jobs or the economy but about the president’s birthplace, and the Obama campaign has taken full advantage of this.
Obama’s deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter said in a statement Tuesday that “Mitt Romney’s continued embrace of Donald Trump and refusal to condemn his disgraceful conspiracy theories demonstrates his complete lack of moral leadership.”
“If Mitt Romney lacks the backbone to stand up to a charlatan like Donald Trump because he’s so concerned about lining his campaign’s pockets, what does that say about the kind of president he would be?” she said.
While Romney has said he believes Obama was born in the United States, he has not distanced himself from Trump.
“You know, I don’t agree with all the people who support me, and my guess is they don’t all agree with everything I believe in,” Romney told reporters on Monday. “But I need to get 50.1 percent or more, and I’m appreciative to have the help of a lot of good people.”
The Obama campaign has drawn a contrast between Romney and John McCain, who in 2008 corrected a woman at a rally when she called Obama an Arab. McCain said Obama was “a decent family man” with whom he just happened to disagree.
Earlier in the day, Trump said on CNBC that “nothing’s changed my mind” about where Obama was born.
“Is it the most important thing?” Trump asked himself. “In a way, it is.”
S.E. Cupp, a Republican strategist, said that Trump’s “conspiracy” theory wasn’t the real problem — but rather that he’s not backing down even as he chips away at his candidate’s armor.
“Romney is now leaning on someone who clearly isn’t bothered by the fact that he’s putting Romney in a precarious position,” Cupp said. “Surrogates should truly want to help and support their candidates, and it appears that’s not Trump’s primary concern. If I’m an adviser to Gov. Romney, that would give me some pause about Mr. Trump’s endorsement and support.”
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