Donald Trump’s birth certificate strategy

Lines like this are unlikely to win Trump the endorsement of the New York Times editorial page. But according to consultants Stone and McLaughlin, they may help with primary voters. “It’s a brilliant stratagem in a multi-candidate field,” Stone said. “He just needs a plurality.”

Voters with questions about Obama’s birth could provide that margin. A poll conducted in last month by Public Policy Polling found that 51 percent of likely Republican primary voters don’t believe Obama was born in the United States. Twenty-one percent said they were unsure, while 28 percent said they firmly believe he was born here. Stone said he’s seen other private polls that show about one-third of primary voters feel “very strongly” about the issue.

So far, Obama and his political machine have done an effective job of controlling the issue in the mainstream press, and many think the president has deliberately avoided releasing his birth certificate so he could use the issue to paint conservatives as crazy.

John McLaughlin says that tactic worked well in 2008, but since Obama is far less popular now, and facing much greater scrutiny as a sitting president, questions about his birth certificate are hurting him. “To not put it out now, it’s like, ‘why won’t you put it out?’” McLaughlin said, adding that he personally believes Obama was born in Hawaii.

At this point, Donald Trump and Barack Obama have at least one thing in common: Both claim to have an original birth certificate, yet neither has publicly released one. Asked if he would release his now, before officially announcing for president, Trump doesn’t hesitate. “Nooo,” he said. “Why would I release it to you? I’ve never even heard of you.”