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Trump Ends Equivocation on Obama's Birthplace, Blames Clinton

  • Wayne Lee

U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has ended five years of questioning the country of President Barack Obama's birth by declaring he "was born in the United States, period."

The Republican nominee in 2011 was a force behind a movement arguing, without evidence, that Obama was born abroad. Since then, he has refused to directly say what he believes, until he ended the ambiguity Friday.

In a campaign appearance Friday, Trump again blamed Clinton for starting the controversy, during the 2008 election when she was running against Obama. Numerous news media outlets have investigated the allegation and found there is no evidence to support it.

News organizations ditch Trump hotel tour

After Trump's statement, he was expected to lead journalists on a tour of his new Washington hotel. But when the Trump campaign announced only still photographers and camera operators would be allowed to participate, and a television producer was physically barred from joining them, Washington bureau chiefs of various news organizations all pulled out of the tour and erased their video of it.

Fox News Washington bureau chief Bryan Boughton, speaking as a representative for the group of news outlets, said: "The television pool members chose not to participate in a tour of the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C. today because our editorial team member was barred from going on the tour with a videographer. The TV pool traditionally doesn't participate in events that our reporters or producers are not allowed to attend."

Clinton, also in Washington Friday, dismissed Trump’s efforts to raise questions about the president’s birthplace.

Speaking before The Black Women’s Agenda Symposium on her second day of campaigning since falling ill during a September 11 commemoration ceremony, Clinton said, “For five years, he has led the birther movement to delegitimize our first black president. His campaign was founded on this outrageous lie."

“He is feeding into the worst impulses, the bigotry and bias that lurks in our country. Barack Obama was born in America, plain and simple, and Donald Trump owes him and the American people an apology,” Clinton added.

WATCH: Clinton slams Trump on Obama birther issue

Trump's appearance Friday occurred just a few blocks from the White House, at his new luxury Trump International Hotel, where he paid tribute to several Medal of Honor recipients.

After Trump’s campaign event, Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook issued a statement describing Trump’s actions Friday as “disgraceful.”

“After five years of pushing a racist conspiracy theory into the mainstream, it was appalling to watch Trump appoint himself the judge of whether the President of the United States is American. This sickening display shows more than ever why Donald Trump is totally unfit be president.”

President Obama addressed the issue Friday, telling reporters at the White House he will not comment on the matter anymore. “We got other business to attend to. I was pretty confident where I was born. I think other people were as well, and my hope would be that the presidential election reflects more serious issues than that.”

WATCH: Obama responds to reporter question about Trump/birther issue

In an attempt to put an end to the controversy, Obama produced his birth certificate in 2011. It showed he was born at the Kapiolani Medical Center in Hawaii on August 4, 1961.

After Trump retreated from his claims, members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) criticized Trump on CNBC for his role in the birther movement and demanded that he apologize to Obama. CBC chairman G.K. Butterfield said Trump was a "disgusting fraud." Congressman Hakeem Jeffries called Trump a "two-bit racial arsonist" while Congresswoman Barbara Lee said Trump was a liar.

Trump’s unfounded claims since 2011 helped launch his political career, as it further raised his national profile and endeared him to citizens on the far right.

But as the race for the White House tightened, the issue became a liability for Trump among African American, Latino and moderate voters who are needed to win the presidential election.

Latest polls

The birther saga continues to make waves as the latest opinion polls show the two presidential candidates locked into what amounts to a statistical tie at a time when third party candidates could alter the race.

The latest New York Times/CBS News Poll shows Clinton ahead of Trump by a slim 46 percent to 44 percent margin among likely voters nationwide. The RealClear Politics national average shows Clinton clinging to a narrow 45.7 to 44.2 lead.

Friday evening in Miami, Trump told an audience that Clinton's bodyguards should stop carrying guns because Clinton wants to overturn the Second Amendment, which upholds a citizen's right to bear arms.

"I think that her bodyguards should drop all weapons," Trump said. "They should disarm, right? Take their guns away, she doesn't want guns....and let's see what happens to her. Take their guns away. OK, it would be very dangerous."

Clinton has never said she wants to overturn the Second Amendment. Instead, she has called for tighter access to guns, including universal background checks.

Clinton campaign manager Mook said in a statement that Trump's remarks about Clinton's bodyguards fall into Trump's pattern of inciting people to violence. "Whether this is done to provoke protesters at a rally or casually or even as a joke, it is an unacceptable quality in anyone seeking the job of Commander in Chief."

Both candidates' bodyguards are armed with guns.

The Clinton campaign is trying to regain what was once Clinton’s sizable lead over Trump by making a concerted effort to win over disillusioned voters who are leaning toward Libertarian Party candidate and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson and Green Party nominee Jill Stein.

These voters, many of whom are millennials (born between the early 1980s and early 2000s), live in states that have fallen on hard economic times due primarily to a dramatic decline in the manufacturing sector.

Clinton hopes to get a boost among these voters on Saturday when Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, two politicians young liberal voters are loyal to, hit the campaign trail on her behalf. The senators will campaign in the battleground state of Ohio, where Clinton and Trump are tied in the polls.

Trump has turned his attention to the political battleground state of Florida, where recent polls show him increasing his lead over Clinton. His Friday evening rally in Miami will be followed by another Sunday in Fort Myers.

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