Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana broke with his running mate, Donald Trump, on the issue of President Barack Obama’s birthplace today, proclaiming that he does not doubt that Obama was born in the United States.
Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, was one of the leaders of the so-called birther movement in recent years, questioning whether Obama was born on American soil and was eligible to be commander in chief. Though he has avoided the topic as a candidate, Trump has not acknowledged that Obama, who was born in Hawaii, is a natural born citizen and as recently as this week said “I don’t talk about it” when pressed.
But when asked about the issue on his campaign plane on Wednesday, Pence said he took the president at his word.
“I believe Barack Obama was born in Hawaii,” Pence said, according an NBC News report.
Noting that he disagrees with Obama on matters of policy, he added, “I accept his birthplace.”
The birther issue is one of several conspiracy theories Trump has entertained, including the suggestion that Sen. Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the possibility that Justice Antonin Scalia was murdered.
Hillary Clinton, Trump’s Democratic opponent, regularly brings up Trump’s theories about Obama to make the case that he is discrediting the country’s first black president. Pence declined to say whether Trump should apologize for questioning Obama’s origins, according to NBC, offering only that Trump had a long history of outreach to African-Americans.
“I think Donald Trump’s record both as a businessman and as a political leader and a patron in supporting minority efforts, and particularly supporting the advancement of the African-American community, really speaks for itself,” Pence said.