The "birther" talk and Muslim accusations about President Barack Obama didn't start with Donald Trump's demands for his long-form birth certificate, but rather during the 2008 presidential campaign when Hillary Clinton's camp planted the seeds, "Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough said Monday.
"It started, this started, with Hillary Clinton and it was spread by the Clinton family back in 2008," Scarborough said on his MSNBC program
, slamming Clinton for criticizing Donald Trump's refusal to shut down a supporter's comments on Obama's religion "when it all started with her and her campaign passing things around in the Democratic primary."
MSNBC correspondent Harold Ford, a former representative and the last chairman of the now-defunct Democratic Leadership Council, challenged Scarborough's comments and told co-host Mika Brzezinski that he had to jump in, as "if there was a base for your comments, I would agree with it."
But another panelist, John Heilemann, who co-authored the book "Game Change" about the 2008 campaign, agreed with Scarborough, saying that "it was the case" that the Clintons started the "birther" controversy.
In another network, GOP frontrunner Donald Trump also criticized Clinton on Monday, telling the Fox News "Fox and Friends"
program to "look at what Hillary said in 2008 when she was running against him, about where he came from, and his whole status."
"Hillary was one of the first, maybe the first to bring it up," Trump said, "People should start, go back and they should look at Hillary's relationship to Obama when they were running against each other. I think they'll be very surprised...people don't know that and people don't talk about it. Actually people do know about it but they don't talk about it."
And when the morning show's panel asked Trump to confirm that he meant that Clinton's campaign helped create the idea that Obama was a Muslim and born in Kenya, he responded: "That is correct. That's where it began. That's where it began, absolutely right."
According to Politico
, the first talk about Obama, actually began in 2004 as a slam by Illinois political candidate Andy Martin, but the theories spread in the spring of 2008, when Clinton's supporters allegedly started circulating an anonymous email that questioned the then-senator's citizenship.
“Barack Obama’s mother was living in Kenya with his Arab-African father late in her pregnancy," the email had said. "She was not allowed to travel by plane then, so Barack Obama was born there and his mother then took him to Hawaii to register his birth."
Clinton, in a "60 Minutes" interview in 2008
, disputed the claims that Obama was a Muslim, but her wording that "there's nothing to base that on, as far as I know" has been considered by many as an ambivalent answer.
"There is no basis for that," she commented at the time to "60 Minutes" correspondent Steve Kroft. "You know, I take him on the basis of what he says, and, you know, there isn’t any reason to doubt that.”
Also back in 2008, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe accused the Clinton campaign of "shameful offensive fear-mongering" by reportedly supplying a photograph of Obama dressed as a Somali elder during a visit to Kenya, Politico
reported at the time.
“On the very day that Senator Clinton is giving a speech about restoring respect for America in the world, her campaign has engaged in the most shameful, offensive fear-mongering we’ve seen from either party in this election," Plouffe said.
But then-Clinton campaign manager Maggie Williams did not admit that the campaign had circulated the photo, but insisted that "if Barack Obama's campaign wants to suggest that a photo of him wearing traditional Somali clothing is divisive, they should be ashamed. Hillary Clinton has worn the traditional clothing of countries she has visited and had those photos published widely."
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