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Trump once gave Romney debate advice...here's what happened four years later

Posted October 4

During the first presidential debate, Donald Trump had to answer why he changed his longstanding allegation that President Barack Obama had been born in Kenya, not in Hawaii.

Debate moderator Lester Holt asked Trump what made the real estate mogul suddenly change his mind about the issue. Trump, according to the debate transcript, said that no one “was pressing it, nobody was caring much about it.” He said that because he "got involved I didn't fail, I got him to give the birth certificate. I'm satisfied with it.”

But, Lester said Trump continued to question Obama’s birthplace even after the president unveiled his birth certificate, according to the transcript.

Holt isn't the only one to suggest that Trump continued to press the birtherism issue long after 2011. CNN put together a list of 14 times that Trump brought up the issue, eight of which occured between 2012 and 2014.

"He was perhaps born in Kenya. Very simple, OK?" Trump said in May 2014, according to CNN. "He was perhaps born in this country. But said he was born in Kenya because if you say you were born in Kenya, you got aid and you got into colleges. People were doing that. So perhaps he was born in this country, and that has a very big chance. Or, you know, who knows?"

And Mother Jones recently uncovered some striking evidence that shows Trump did talk about birtherism long after Obama presented his birth certificate. In fact, Trump tweeted that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney should ask Obama about his birth certificate during the first 2012 presidential debate.

These tweets were written in 2012 — just ahead of the debates.

“As Romney reeled from super-PAC attacks on his record at Bain Capital and from his closed-door comments about the ‘47 percent,’ Trump believed certain secrets about Obama's past were the best bet to turn things around,” according to Mother Jones.

Trump said that Romney should ask the question if Obama pushed him on his tax returns.

And although Romney ignored Trump’s advice, the former star of “The Apprentice” continued to suggest the idea to Romney over Twitter ahead of the second 2012 debate.

He continued to push the issue before the third debate.

Trump also brought up the issue during his presidential campaign on multiple occasions, according to the Los Angeles Times.

But, now, Trump’s concern over birtherism may be over. He acknowledged in a speech earlier this month that he believed Obama had been born in the United States, adding that he "finished" the birther movement after Hillary Clinton started it, The Washington Post reported.

And Trump never brought up Obama’s birth certificate during the most recent debate.

“Well, I say nothing, because I was able to get him to produce it,” Trump said, according to the transcript. “He should have produced it a long time before. I say nothing. When you talk about healing, I think that I've developed very, very good relationships, over the last little while with the African-American community. I think you can see that. And I feel like they really wanted me to come to that conclusion, and I think I did a great job and a great service, not only for the country but even for the president in getting him to produce his birth certificate.”

That may actually be a good idea, since attacking President Obama could hurt Trump in the polls, given that Obama has a 53 percent approval rating among Americans, according to Gallup.

It's also not an issue that's sat well with black voters. As Salon reported, black voters have often said that the birtherism movement delegitimizes the first African American president.

"At its core, birtherism is an effort to delegitimize Obama, the United States’ first black president," according to Salon. "This ploy did real harm to Obama’s ability to conduct the people’s business and confront the dire challenges facing the United States after the disastrous George W. Bush presidency. Plain and simple: Birtherism was and is a national distraction and embarrassment."

Then again, it could help win over some Republican voters, as there's a partisan divide about the issue, according to a recent NBC News poll, which found that 72 percent of Republicans have doubts about Obama's birth.

The survey, which interviewed 1,700 registered voters, found that more that 80 percent of Democrats agree that Obama was born in the United states.

The poll, which also measured their results based on political knowledge, found there's little to no difference between those who have high or low political knowledge, showing that the country remains divided over the issue, regardless of their political IQ.

The poll said this is likely to stay an issue throughout the rest of the campaign.

"The fact that so many Republicans believe that the president was not born in the United States despite evidence to the contrary suggests that in the partisan-charged environment, it may be very difficult to dispel rumors and outlandish claims regardless of wins on Election Day," according to NBC News.

Herb Scribner is a writer for Deseret Digital Media.

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