US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has finally acknowledged that President Barack Obama was born in the United States, as he sought to end his longstanding attempt to discredit the nation’s first African-American president.
“President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period,” Trump said on Friday at a campaign event in Washington, DC.
Trump also falsely accused his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton of starting the so-called birther controversy in 2008. There is no evidence to link Clinton to the birthers.
“Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy. I finished it. I finished it,” Trump said.
Trump did not apologize to Obama for his leading role in the birther movement and didn’t explain what caused him to change his view.
The celebrity businessman has sought to improve his negative image among minority voters and moderate Republicans in recent months, many of whom see birtherism as racially motivated and an insult to Obama.
Analysts say that although the birther issue has not been a major one in this campaign, it continues to irritate black voters, who see it as an attempt to challenge the legitimacy of the country’s first African American president.
In a speech in Washington just ahead of Trump’s, Clinton said Trump had led the birther movement for five years and had founded his campaign on “this outrageous lie”. “There is no erasing it,” she said.
“Imagine a person in the Oval Office who traffics in conspiracy theories – who distorts the truth to fit a very narrow view of the world,” she added.
Some reports suggest the birther issue was circulated in 2008 by loyal supporters of Clinton as it became clear that she was not going to win the Democratic nomination against Obama. However there is no evidence that Clinton or her then campaign was directly linked to it.
According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Friday, Clinton held a 4-point lead over the New York businessman, 42 percent to 38 percent.
However, one out of every five likely voters said they do not support Clinton or Trump for president, the poll found.