In July 2008, a researcher “looking to dig up dirt on Obama” instead came across a birth announcement from 1961 in the Honolulu Advertiser documenting the birth of then presidential candidate Barack Obama in the state. For many, the announcement, together with Obama’s birth certificate, conclusively proved that Obama was born in the United States and is eligible to run for president.
Rumored presidential hopeful Donald Trump isn’t convinced. On CNN’s State of the Union today, Trump claimed that Obama’s grandparents planted the announcement to obtain welfare benefits:
TRUMP: The grandparents put that [birth announcement] in [the newspaper] because obviously they want him to be a United States citizen because in those days, people were much more proud than they are today unfortunately for being a United States citizen.
So they wanted him to be a citizen of the United States, for that purpose, and also for hospitalization, for welfare, for this, for that, for all the other assets you get from being a United States citizen. So there are a lot of very smart people who say that is routinely done and that was done by his grandparents. [...]
CROWLEY: I will tell you we’ve checked with both these papers early on — not to the latest when you brought it back in the headlines — but the fact is that the hospitals reported this information to the papers, and the papers printed it.
TRUMP: Who knows? You’re talking fifty years ago.
On several occasions, Trump has implied that Obama’s grandparents essentially lied about his citizenship “for social reasons.” The other “smart people” who agree with him include conservative blogger Tom Maguire who claims the birth announcement was planted to win a potential custody battle involving “a black Kenyan baby sought by the black Kenyan father and his African family.”
Yet, as Crowley pointed out, the birth information printed in the Honolulu Advertiser always came directly from the state health department (via the local hospital), not Obama’s grandparents or relatives. It’s also worth noting that since Obama’s mother was a U.S. citizen, he was automatically conferred citizenship and all of its “assets” no matter where he was born, thus making him eligible anyway for the benefits Trump claims his family committed fraud to obtain. Unless his grandparents somehow knew that baby Obama would one day want to run for president, there wouldn’t really be a reason for his family to fabricate a convoluted lie regarding his birthplace.
White House senior adviser David Plouffe dismissed Donald Trump’s birther beliefs today, noting that “there may be a small part of the country that believes these things, but mainstream Americans think it’s a side show.” In fact, more than half of GOP primary voters believe Obama was not born in the U.S., compared to 11 percent of the general public.