CPAC2014: Donald Trump, Birther Till Death

He really, really hopes his worst fears aren’t realized. He really, really does.

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md.—In the weeks since Donald Trump scrapped with BuzzFeed, and since he gave Breitbart an exclusive pack of lies about how the site and its reporter had screwed him, I’ve come to think it was a brilliant stunt. Well, “brilliant” might oversell it. But Trump isn’t entirely ignorant about the media, and he’s started to learn how the conservative movement works. Isn’t it possible that he baited BuzzFeed so he could attack the site from the right? 

If so, it worked. Trump got a remarkably positive response at CPAC, even though his speech was marked by his standard nativist incoherence. (Most reporters in the room mocked him for referring to “the late Jimmy Carter.” Carter is not dead.) While at CPAC, he did another exclusive with Breitbart, and stopped by—deep breath here—

“Celebrating American Entrepreneurship Reception with Donald Trump, sponsored by Citizens United and Young America’s Foundation.”

I reached the reception long after the “crudites shooters” and mini-bratwursts were gone, but right in time for Trump to answer a question about Barack Obama’s citizenship. The mogul/laughingstock insisted that “an ABC reporter, who I respect” had totally been bested by him when the question came up.

“Where do you think he was born?” said Trump, quoting himself. “Do you think he was born here? He was like, ‘I don’t know, I’m not sure.’ When I walk down the street, I have more people screaming at me—‘Don’t forget the birth certificate. It’s the craziest thing! I have more people that shout out their car windows—that is not an issue that has not resonated.

He went on, recalling how he’d demanded Obama’s college records, offering a cash prize for them. “To me, it’s one of the most interesting things that none of these colleges have turned [his records] in. I hope it’s positive, because if not, we have a sham president. It could be a way of collecting $50 million and giving it to charity. Why does somebody spend $3.5 million on legal fees? Why, when he was a very young man, did he do a book and on the cover of the book, it said ‘a young man from Kenya.’ The next day he said it was a typo.”

The last few claims weren’t even true, but Trump made them out of sorrow, not anger. “Someday it’ll come out,” he said. “I hope it’s not true.”