Ever since Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump undermined and distanced himself from the birther movement, his surrogates have run with a new theory… That Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was behind the far-out idea that President Barack Obama was born in Kenya way back in 2008 the whole time.
She wasn’t, of course. In fact, during the time in question she was co-sponsoring legislation with Barack Obama that dismissed birther attacks—against Republican John McCain.
That’s right. In April of 2008, then-U.S. Sens. Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Obama (D-Ill.), while still engaged in a brutal Democratic presidential primary, joined a magnanimous-but-mostly-common-sense resolution denouncing attacks on the presidential eligibility of Arizona Sen. McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee at the time.
Back before “birthers” had a name, kerfuffle arose among some legal minds about the fact that McCain, the son of a Navy admiral, was born in the Panama Canal Zone while his father was stationed there.
While few expected courts to actually disqualify McCain, enough debate ensued that the Politifact declined to weigh in on whether attacks on McCain were legit.
But in a sign of how differently Liberals and Conservatives approach such matters, Democrats in the Senate, including then-Sen. Clinton, successfully brought forward a resolution defending McCain from the spurious charge.
To be clear, neither Clinton nor then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama championed the matter. It was Democratic Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill who spoke to the Wall Street Journal fervently on the resolution:
“It is silly for anyone to argue that Senator McCain is not eligible to become president. I would hope that this is something we can all agree on, for goodness sake.”
If you swap McCain’s name with Hawaii-born Obama, that statement remains just as true. But then, no senator in 2008 on either side of the aisle even saw a need to put forward such a resolution defending the obviously American gentleman from Illinois.
Why’s all this important today?
As Trump faces general election audiences for the first time, a theory he pushed for at least five years has become politically toxic. Trump in 2011 became the most high-profile trumpeter of birther suspicion. The issue has been well-documented by the New York Times and other outlets.
Last week, he backed off and read a statement to reporters on the matter:
“Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008, started the birther controversy. I finished it. President Barack Obama was born in the United States. Period.”
Trump couldn’t admit the truth without introducing a lie. Obama was born in the U.S., a fact most people never doubted. But Clinton never uttered a single allegation about Obama’s legal eligibility to serve. Maybe she was too busy defending McCain against similar attacks to bother.
Weird, since Clinton so vigorously campaigned post-primary season to get Obama elected. You’d also think the issue might have given Obama second thoughts about appointing Clinton as his first secretary of state.
But Trump had just sent the new message – Clinton was the original birther – out like a bat signal. And while Trump wouldn’t address media, his surrogates did. Running mate Mike Pence told ABC News:
“I know there’s news reports that trace this birther movement all the way back to Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2008.”
Many on the right now pin this on Clinton confidante Sidney Blumenthal.
A former McClatchy bureau chief confirms Blumenthal gave a tip to the bureau that Obama might not have been born in the U.S. Blumenthal denies that, but either way, he never made any public assertions about Obama’s birth, and McClatchy investigated the notion before determining the rumor to be completely untrue.
Considering where these people have placed their political weight today, it seems unlikely any of them took their marching orders from camp Clinton.
Watch Trump do his about face and say that President Obama was born in the U.S.: