Barack Obama, the first ever African-American president was born in the United States, the purveyor -in-chief of the contrary theory, U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has now admitted.
“President Barack Obama was born in the United States. Period.” he said at the end of an event to promote his new luxury hotel in Washington D.C.
The New York real estate developer did not apologise for stirring up the controversy year ago. Instead, he falsely blamed his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton for the issue.
“Hillary Clinton in her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy. I finished it,” Trump claimed.
The billionaire has previously refused to publicly admit that Obama was born in the United States, despite the president releasing his birth certificate showing he was born in Hawaii.
Earlier on Friday, Obama said he was “shocked” the issue even resurfaced.
“I was pretty confident about where I was born,” Obama told reporters.
According to Reuters, Trump devoted only about 30 seconds to the subject.
He did not apologize and did not expand upon his abrupt decision to shift from a stance he held for five years.
The New York businessman brought up the birther controversy as far back as 2011, appealing to a right-wing fringe of voters who formed the early base of his support when he launched his presidential bid last year.
The birther conspiracy movement is aimed at challenging the legality of Obama’s presidency – the U.S Constitution requires that a president be a natural-born citizen.
During his presidential campaign, Trump has readily trafficked in other theories that are the stuff of American supermarket tabloids.
There was his declaration that the father of U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, one of Trump’s many rivals for the Republican nomination, might have been linked to the assassin of President John F. Kennedy.
And there was his false claim that thousands of Muslims in Jersey City, New Jersey, cheered when the World Trade Center twin towers collapsed in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
In making his announcement on Friday, Trump advanced a widely debunked claim that Clinton and her 2008 campaign had been the original birthers.
“Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy. I finished it. You know what I mean,” he said.
His campaign directed reporters to a 2007 memo from then-Clinton adviser Mark Penn, who had encouraged the Clinton campaign to go negative against Obama by saying that his Hawaiian birth and boyhood in Indonesia gave him limited roots in American values and culture.
The Democratic National Committee on Friday condemned Trump’s bid to link Clinton to the birther idea. “He had the audacity to spout a new lie about the birther movement that he helped to build,” it said.
Clinton, who leads Trump by 4 percentage points in the latest Reuters/Ipsos poll, on Friday demanded Trump apologise to the president for having helped spread the birther idea and said Trump had tried to “delegitimize our first black president.”
“His campaign was founded on this outrageous lie. There is no erasing it in history,” Clinton said in an address to the Black Women’s Association in Washington.
Clinton seized on the issue after struggling to overcome the fallout from her remark a week ago that half of Trump’s supporters are in a “basket of deplorables” and her initial secrecy about her pneumonia diagnosis.
Obama, who produced the longer version of his Hawaiian birth certificate in 2011 to prove doubters wrong, had famously mocked Trump over the issue at a White House Correspondents Association dinner as the wealthy businessman sat in the audience fuming.
*Xinhua and Reuters