CNN anchor Don Lemon confronted former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday with the allegation that her 2008 campaign pushed conspiracy theories against then-Sen. Barack Obama.
“Did you or your campaign start the whole ‘birther’ thing?” Lemon asked Clinton during a radio interview on “The Tom Joyner Morning Show,” according to audio provided by CNN.
The Democratic presidential front-runner directly denied any involvement.
“That is so ludicrous, Don,” she responded. “It is totally untrue.”
The “birther” debate emerged again last week when Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump declined to correct a supporter who declared that Obama is a Muslim foreigner.
Trump was one of the most prominent people challenging the authenticity of Obama’s birth certificate and continues to decline opportunities to say the president was in fact born in the US — and therefore is eligible for the Oval Office.
With the issue back in the news cycle, conservatives and other Clinton critics are pointing to the role her 2008 presidential campaign had in making Obama seem more foreign.
During the fierce primary contest, Obama’s campaign manager accused the Clinton team of “shameful, offensive fear-mongering” for allegedly circulating a photo of Obama dressed in traditional African garb. According to CNN, Clinton’s campaign said at the time that Obama was trying to “distract” voters with the accusation, but did not deny circulating the photo.
And as Bloomberg Politics noted last week, a top 2008 Clinton campaign adviser wrote a 2007 memo that said Obama’s “roots to basic American values and culture are at best limited. I cannot imagine America electing a president during a time of war who is not at his center fundamentally American in his thinking and his values.”
Even Trump accused Clinton of promoting the “birther” issue in a Tuesday night tweet:
Just remember, the birther movement was started by Hillary Clinton in 2008. She was all in!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2015
Other recent reports have documented other alleged Clinton transgressions on the subject. The national Republican Party also shared its own research on the issue in reaction to Clinton’s Wednesday interview with Lemon.
“It must be getting hot inside Hillary Clinton’s glass house,” Republican National Committee spokesman Michael Short told Business Insider. “Hillary Clinton can’t ignore the fact her 2008 campaign pioneered the questioning of Barack Obama’s faith and citizenship.”
For her part, Clinton told Lemon that she had never even heard of the allegation that her campaign supported the “birther” theories and that Obama had never confronted her about it.
“I have been blamed for nearly everything [but] that was a new one to me,” she said. “I’ll just keep going and talking about what I want to do to get incomes rising and making college affordable and making all of the positive changes that we have to be worried about.”
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