President Obama is confident that most Americans think he "doesn't have horns," the president told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos. Obama took on the birther issue--the conspiracy that he wasn't really born in Hawaii and thus is ineligible to be president, recently embraced by "credible" 2012 candidate Donald Trump--saying that in the long run, it would hurt the Republican Party.
Obama marveled that on this score, he and Karl Rove agree--perhaps for the first time ever. This is the first time the president has directly spoken about the issue since Trump began fanning the birther flames, Politico's Maggie Haberman notes. The move elevates Trump, she writes, and gives Democrats a handy foil. But it also shows they see a risk in letting the controversy fester.
The full quote from Obama:
"I think that over the last two and a half years there's been an effort to go at me in a way that is politically expedient in the short-term for Republicans. But [it] creates, I think a problem for them when they want to actually run in a general election where most people feel pretty confident the President was born where he says he was, in Hawaii. He-- he doesn't have horns…we're not really worrying about conspiracy theories or-- or birth certificates...
The truth of the matter is that I think that the vast majority of Americans across the country--Democratic or Republican--really want this election to be about growing the economy, getting control of the deficit, preparing the future for our kids. And my suspicion is that anybody who is not addressing those questions... Is going to be in trouble. I think they may get a quick pop in the news. They may get a lot of attention. But ultimately, the American people understand this is a serious, sober time."
Video of Obama's comments on the subject: