Donald Trump on Monday accused Hillary Clinton of being the first to spread the theory that President Barack Obama is a Muslim who was not born in the United States.
“That’s where it began,” Trump said Monday on Fox News. “Look at what she said about President Obama in 2008, believe me what I said is nothing. Take a look at what Hillary said in 2008 when she was running against him.”
Trump was one of the most high-profile proponents of the “birther” theory and repeatedly challenged Obama to release his birth certificate. Trump suggested then that Obama might be refusing to release his birth certificate because it might show he was a Muslim. Obama eventually released a long-form birth certificate proving he was born in the U.S.
When asked in a 2008 CBS “60 Minutes” interview whether she believed Obama was a Muslim, Clinton said “of course not,” noting that “there is no basis for that.”
“There’s nothing to base that off, as far as I know,” Clinton said in that interview, an answer that critics panned at the time.
Trump also explained Monday that when the man at his New Hampshire event last Thursday proclaimed “we have a problem in this country…called Muslims,” the Republican front-runner assumed the man “was talking about radical Islam.”
“I’ve said it always, I’ve never had a problem with Muslims. You do have an individual problem where you do have some radicals that are having problems,” Trump said Monday on NBC’s “Today Show.” “I assume that he was talking about radical Islam.”
The questioner at the New Hampshire event last week said there was a problem with “Muslims” and went on to say that he believed there were terrorist training camps in the United States.
Trump’s campaign manager at first said that Trump did not hear the first part of the question when the man said he believed Muslims are a problem and that President Barack Obama is a Muslim. Trump later insisted he has no “moral obligation” to defend Obama from those accusations.
The controversy quickly swept up Ben Carson, another Republican presidential candidate who, when asked Sunday about the incident said that he did not believe a Muslim should be president of the United States.
Trump did not say whether he agreed with Carson but said the retired neurosurgeon was simply “speaking his opinion” and that Carson clearly “feels very strongly” about that view.
Trump also did not seek to distance himself from the questioner at the New Hampshire event who sparked the controversy, noting Monday morning that the man was wearing a Trump T-shirt and was simply a “hardworking guy from the area” who was “speaking his opinion.” Trump also noted that he saw “a lot of people in the audience…nodding” their heads in agreement with what the questioner was saying.