The “birther” movement has a new and famous public face: business magnate Donald Trump. The real estate developer and host of NBC reality show The Apprentice has said he is seriously considering a run for president in 2012, and he chose a volatile banner to wave as he comes out swinging against President Barack Obama. “I want him to show his birth certificate,” Trump told the women of NBC’s The View last Wednesday. “There’s something on that birth certificate that he doesn’t like.”
The show’s hosts stumbled over each other to respond— Whoopi Goldberg: “That’s the biggest pile of dog mess I’ve heard in ages!”—but the Donald has shown no sign of backing down. He appeared on Newsmax.TV and Fox News, calling on the president to release his birth certificate. Obama has, in fact, released the birth certificate issued by the state of Hawaii and his newspaper birth announcement, but birthers question whether this means he was actually born in the United States, or whether the documents were forged or altered.
On Monday, Trump released to Newsmax what he said was his own birth certificate, but it was quickly revealed as an unofficial certificate of birth from the hospital, not the official document New York issues to newborns. This, of course, sparked a series of mocking blogs and articles questioning Trump’s eligibility to be president himself.
A CNN/Opinion Research poll last July suggests 27 percent of Americans overall and 41 percent of Republicans believe Obama was probably or definitely born in another country, so Trump wouldn’t be alone in his birtherism. But some note the media frenzy is nicely timed with the start of a new season of The Celebrity Apprentice, leading to the question: Is this just a publicity stunt?
U.S. News blogger Robert Schlesinger suggests a conspiracy theory: Trump could be the ideal Democratic plant to force other GOP hopefuls to address the divisive issue. He writes that Trump is “unserious enough to actually wave the bloody birth certificate, but wealthy and famous enough that he’s impossible to ignore.”
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