Mike Pence boldly goes where no Trump has ever gone before

Pence is willing to face facts.

Trump speaks about national security, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016, at the Union League in Philadelphia. CREDIT: AP Photo/Evan Vucci
Trump speaks about national security, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016, at the Union League in Philadelphia. CREDIT: AP Photo/Evan Vucci

The Republican nominee for vice president, Mike Pence, is convinced that Barack Obama is a U.S. citizen. Donald Trump is not.

Trump first rose to political prominence in the spring of 2011 by pushing the racially-charged conspiracy theory that Barack Obama wasn’t really born in the United States. Even after overwhelming evidence emerged that Obama was indeed born in Hawaii, Trump insisted his grandparents faked documentation to obtain welfare benefits.

In the years since, Trump has never apologized. In fact, as late as September 2014, Trump publicly suggested the president wasn’t born in the United states.

Now that he’s the Republican presidential nominee, Trump doesn’t like to talk about his “birther” phase. On Monday, he told reporters aboard his plane that he doesn’t talk about it “because if I talk about that, your whole thing will be about that.”

During an appearance on The O’Reilly Factor last night, Trump was asked point blank if he thinks his “birther position” has hurt him among African Americans.

Notably, Trump didn’t seize the opportunity to distance himself from birtherism. Instead, he told O’Reilly that he’s “the first one that’s brought that up in a while,” despite the fact that reporters asked him on his plane the day before. Trump then quickly changed the topic to his recent visit to a black church in Detroit.

Today, Pence acknowledged what Trump won’t. Addressing reporters aboard his campaign plane, Pence said “Well I believe Barack Obama was born in Hawaii, I accept his birthplace,” according to a Politico report. Asked if Trump should apologize for his birtherism, Pence danced around the question.

“I think Donald Trump’s record both as a businessman and as a political leader and as a patron in supporting minority efforts and particularly supporting the advancement of the African American community really speaks for itself,” Pence said.

What he didn’t mention is that Trump’s record includes a Justice Department lawsuit brought against him decades ago for discriminating against blacks and Latinos seeking to rent apartments. More recently, Trump drew widespread condemnation from his own party for his racist attacks on a Latino federal judge and on the family of a Muslim U.S. Army Captain who was killed in Iraq.

Trump’s birtherism hasn’t helped him among African Americans. Polling released late last month by Public Policy Polling pegged Trump’s favorability rating among African Americans at zero percent, with 97 percent viewing him unfavorably and three percent undecided.