Donald Trump says birther announcement was to 'get on with the campaign'

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After five years as the most famous member of the so-called birther movement, Donald Trump's sudden about-face on President Barack Obama's citizenship was just about playing politics.

The Republican presidential nominee was asked Wednesday why, after years of calls for proof of citizenship and casting doubt, he now says he's sure Obama was born in the U.S. The GOP nominee told Ohio's WSYX he announced his change of mind because he wanted the issue to be over.

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"Well, I just wanted to get on with, I wanted to get on with the campaign," he said backstage before his rally in Toledo Wednesday. "A lot of people were asking me questions."

"We want to talk about jobs. We want to talk about the military. We want to talk about ISIS and get rid of ISIS," he continued, using another name for the Islamic State group. "We want to talk about bringing jobs back to this area, because you've been decimated, so we just wanted to get back on the subject of jobs, military, taking care of our vets, et cetera."

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Donald Trump and Mike Pence on the campaign trail since the RNC
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump arrives for a rally at Duplin County Events Center in Kenansville, North Carolina on September 20, 2016. / AFP / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
ESTERO, FL - SEPTEMBER 19: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Germain Arena on September 19, 2016 in Estero, Florida. Trump is locked in a tight race against Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in Florida as the November 8th election nears. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during a rally at the JetCenters of Colorado in Colorado Springs, Colorado on September 17, 2016. / AFP / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 0534 -- Pictured: (l-r) Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump during an interview with host Jimmy Fallon on September 15, 2016 -- (Photo by: Andrew Lipovsky/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at the Bethel United Methedoist Church on September 14, 2016 in Flint, Michigan. / AFP / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 13: U.S. Republican vice presidental nominee Gov. Mike Pence addresses a news conference with House GOP leaders following a conference at Republican headquaters on Capitol Hill September 13, 2016 in Washington, DC. When asked about former vice presidential candidate Speaker Paul Ryan's reluctance to endorse presidential candidate Donald Trump, Pence said that the House Republicans and the campaign agree on a plan for America. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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Donald Trump, 2016 Republican presidential nominee, pauses while speaking during a campaign rally at the Erie Insurance Arena in Erie, Pennsylvania, U.S., on Friday, Aug. 12, 2016. Two days after Trump said that President Barack Obama had founded Islamic State, and a day after he insisted that he meant what he said, the Republican presidential nominee reversed himself on Friday and claimed the statement was nothing more than sarcasm. Photographer: Ty Wright/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Donald Trump, 2016 Republican presidential nominee, speaks during a campaign rally at the Erie Insurance Arena in Erie, Pennsylvania, U.S., on Friday, Aug. 12, 2016. Two days after Trump said that President Barack Obama had founded Islamic State, and a day after he insisted that he meant what he said, the Republican presidential nominee reversed himself on Friday and claimed the statement was nothing more than sarcasm. Photographer: Ty Wright/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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On Friday, Trump hyped a "major announcement" on Obama's citizenship, but the event turned out to be little more than a publicity tour of his new hotel in Washington, D.C.. After more than 20 minutes of military officers and award winners offering their endorsements of him – carried live by the major cable networks who were waiting for the announcement – Trump spoke for about 30 seconds and took no questions.

"President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period," Trump declared. "Now we all want to get back to making America strong and great again."

But while trying to put one conspiracy theory to rest, Trump stoked another: That his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, was the original source of the lie that Obama was not born in the U.S.


While some of Clinton's supporters when she first ran for president in 2008 mused about Obama's birthplace, fact checkers have debunked any connection to the Clinton campaign, or Clinton herself.

After his Friday announcement, Trump and his surrogates declared the birther issue "over," and that Trump had "ended it" in 2011 by demanding that Obama release his birth certificate.

Clinton's camp seized on the revived controversy, preferring not to let Trump "get on with" it.

"After spending five years championing a conspiracy theory to undermine our first African American President, Donald Trump hasn't actually changed his mind," campaign spokesman Jesse Ferguson said in a statement. "He only gave his 36-second press statement last week to try to change the subject – and it didn't work."

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