WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump’s most prominent supporters insisted Sunday that he’s put the burden of “birtherism” behind him with his concession that President Barack Obama was born in the United States. But like their candidate, they tried to blame Hillary Clinton’s campaign and rejected any notion that Trump’s political identity is founded on five years of peddling the false rumor that Obama was born elsewhere.
“It’s over,” said Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.
But saying Trump’s admission of the error was behind him — as two sitting governors and several other Trump supporters did across the Sunday talks shows— doesn’t necessarily make it true. The issue is nearly certain to come up during Trump and Clinton’s first debate, Sept. 26.
The episode reflects Trump’s penchant for spreading unsubstantiated claims when he stands to gain from them and his refusal to apologize or take responsibility when he’s been wrong. That operating style did not stop the billionaire developer from vanquishing 16 Republican challengers and capturing the GOP nomination. But in a one-on-one battle with Clinton, it can add up to a character questions with three debates and mere weeks to go before the Nov. 8 elections.