Democratic National Committee spokesman Brad Woodhouse went there: He acknowledged the emerging question of whether a young Barack Obama could have fraudulently mischaracterized his upbringing while seeking entrance to three colleges — Occidental, Columbia and Harvard.
On Tuesday afternoon, Donald Trump tweeted out a coy message saying, “I wonder if @BarackObama ever applied to Occidental, Columbia or Harvard as a foreign student. When can we see his applications? What do they say about his place of birth.”
Nine minutes after Trump’s tweet, Woodhouse jumped in, seeking to entangle Gov. Mitt Romney in Trump’s inquiry. “What say you @MittRomney?” Woodhouse tweeted.
The possibility floated by Trump was raised by recent discoveries of inaccuracies in a past resume produced for Obama and in a resume offered by Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren.
During the 1990s, Warren touted a claim that she was 1/32 Cherokee Indian while she was seeking a teaching slot at Harvard. President Barack Obama’s literary agent told publishers from 1991 to 2007 that he was born in Kenya.
There’s little or no solid evidence that either claim is true, and there’s conflicting reports about how the misleading information was produced.
The intervention risks highlighting the issue, but may be intended to delegitimize the issue by associating it with the wealthy and bombastic Trump, who is derided by many media professionals and Democrats.
The issue also provides Democrats another story line to distract the public from Romney’s focus on the economy, where record unemployment, deficits and debts have driven Obama’s public approval ratings well below 50 percent.
Democrats have already pushed several media controversies — including the short-lived Republican “war on women” and Obama’s decision to switch his position on the definition of marriage — that have successfully drawn media attention away from the public’s anger over the stalled economy.
Fraudulent resumes, however, have damaged many politicians and executives’ careers.
Warren’s unproven Indian claim has badly damaged her Senate run, and has scalped her ratings in the strongly Democratic state.
In 2004, Sen. John Kerry’s presidential campaign was hit when he was unable to substantiate all of his Vietnam War resume.
Others Democrats have survived resume hits. They include Connecticut Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who exaggerated his record in the Vietnam War, and Vice President Joe Biden, who padded his academic claims.
The possibility of fraud in Obama’s college applications could undermine his relatively high personal ratings, which his campaign is using to offset his low performance ratings.
Obama has not okayed the release of any of his university records, even though he has pitched his administration as the “most transparent” administration ever.