Kaine: ‘I Have No Reason to Believe’ Blumenthal Pushed Obama Birther Story

Kaine: 'Whatever Sidney Blumenthal thought in 2008, by 2011, it was absolutely crystal-clear that President Obama was a citizen'

• September 18, 2016 10:26 am


Democratic vice-presidential candidate Sen. Tim Kaine (D., Va.) denied Sunday that longtime Hillary Clinton adviser Sidney Blumenthal peddled the "birther" rumor in 2008 that Barack Obama was born in Kenya.

A former McClatchy D.C. bureau chief tweeted on Friday that Blumenthal pitched him the story in 2008, when Clinton and Obama were fighting tooth-and-nail for the Democratic nomination. The news organization even sent a reporter to Kenya to investigate the claim.

The story returned to the forefront this week when Donald Trump finally admitted that President Obama was in fact born in the United States. Trump had peddled the birther conspiracy theory since 2011 and repeatedly called for Obama to release his birth certificate, leading to charges of racist dog-whistling.

Trump said, however, that the Clinton campaign started the birther rumors, and the McClatchy reporter's accusation against Blumenthal came later that day.

"Sidney Blumenthal has categorically denied that, but Sidney's not running for president," Kaine said on CNN's State of the Union.

Kaine launched into a criticism of Trump's involvement in the birther movement and why it was racially hurtful, before host Jake Tapper finally cut over him.

"There's no doubt that it is offensive and it is a lie," Tapper said. "But I'm asking you about Sidney Blumenthal, who was banned from joining the Obama administration by the Obama White House precisely because he trafficked in a lot of questionable information about Barack Obama. If it's true, if there's evidence that Sidney Blumenthal did push the lie, should Hillary Clinton disassociate herself from Blumenthal, and should she pledge he will not work in her administration?"

"I have no reason to believe that's true, Jake," Kaine said. "None. But again, Sidney Blumenthal isn't running for president. Donald Trump is, and whatever Sidney Blumenthal thought in 2008, by 2011, it was absolutely crystal-clear that President Obama was a citizen, because his birth certificate had been released."