RNC Chair: Donald Trump is wrong on 'birther' issue (video)

At a Monitor breakfast, Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC), said that President Obama was born in the US, and that the issue doesn't move voters.

Michael Bonfigli / The Christian Science Monitor
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus disavowed Donald Trump's birther claims and said the American people are more concerned with jobs, debt, and spending, when speaking with reporters at a Monitor breakfast in Washington, on Tuesday, April 26.

Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus distanced himself from potential GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump over the real estate tycoon's focus on President Obama's birthplace, when speaking at a Monitor-sponsored breakfast for reporters on Tuesday.

"Trump can – the candidates can talk about it all they want," Chairman Priebus said, when asked if the birther movement's questioning of Mr. Obama’s citizenship would yield votes for Republicans in 2012.

"But my position is that the president was born in the United States – and I don’t think it is an issue that moves voters.”

Trump said Monday that voters are responding positively to his repeated insistence, in cable TV appearances, that Obama needs to prove he was born in the United States, to meet the Constitution's requirement that presidents be a "natural born citizen."

He pointed to his rising poll numbers as an indication Americans agree with his birther stance. “"I have more people that are excited about the fact that I reinvigorated this whole issue," Trump said. "The last guy [Obama] wants to run against is Donald Trump."

At Tuesday's breakfast, Priebus told reporters that, “The more important question is: What is going on in this country? In regard to jobs, to debt, and the deficit and spending? I think those are the things that people worry about. I don’t think people are worried about these other issues.”

And who deserves the blame for the continued discussion of Obama's citizenship? “I think it is being revived mainly by people in the media,” Priebus said.

A New York Times/CBS poll conducted April 15-20 found the birther issue resonates with Republican voters. Among the public at large, 25 percent thought President Obama was not a ”natural born citizen.” Among Republicans, 45 percent said they believe he was born outside the US. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent.

Material from the Associated Press was included in this story.

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