Trump on birtherism change: 'We wanted to get on with the campaign'

Story highlights

  • Trump was asked why he changed his mind about Obama
  • He also deflected a question about his foundation

(CNN)Donald Trump suggested Wednesday that his statement late last week that President Barack Obama was born in the US was motivated by politics, not by a genuine change of heart.

Answering questions about the issue for the first time since his sudden change, Trump said he abandoned his long-held "birther" views on Friday because he "just wanted to get on with" his campaign.
    "Well, I just wanted to get on with -- you know, we wanted to get on with the campaign. And a lot of people were asking me the questions," Trump said in an interview with local Columbus, Ohio station WSYX, when asked what had changed his position. "And we want to talk about jobs. We want to talk about the military. We want to talk about ISIS and how to get rid of ISIS."
    The Republican presidential nominee questioned whether Obama had been born in the US -- which he was -- for years, including for years after Obama released his longform birth certificate in 2011.
    In the two weeks before he asserted that Obama "was born in the United States," Trump was asked on four separate occasions about his birther views and whether he stood by them -- and declined to disavow those views each time, saying simply that he doesn't "talk about that anymore."
    A spokesman for Hillary Clinton's campaign said Trump's years-long held position undermined the country's first African-American president.
    "He only gave his 36-second press statement last week to try to change the subject -- and it didn't work," said Clinton campaign spokesman Jesse Ferguson.
    Trump was also asked in the interview Wednesday about his use of Trump foundation funds -- which come largely from outside donors -- to resolve personal legal matters.
    Asked about the practice, which The Washington Post reported on Tuesday, Trump said simply that the foundation "gives money to vets and it's really been doing a good job."
    "And I think we put that to sleep just by putting out the last report," Trump said, apparently pointing to a campaign statement Tuesday night in which his spokesman deflected questions about the Trump Foundation and accused the Post reporter of bias.