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Posted at 11:52 AM ET, 04/20/2011

Palin, Bachmann, Jindal and the ‘birther’ debate

Real estate magnate Donald Trump continues to tout the disproven claim that the president was not born in the United States, and his repeated, high-profile hammering of the issue has put Republicans in a tight spot. Over the last 24 hours, three high-profile Republicans have weighed in, providing a range of answers.

Trump doubled down on the ‘birther’ message Tuesday, getting into a heated exchange with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. During the interview, Trump insisted that there was “a real question” about the president’s birth certificate. When Stephanopoulos pressed Trump on the evidence, Trump said, “George, they’ve co-opted you.” Asked who the “they” was, Trump responded, “Well, obviously, Obama and his minions.”

Tuesday evening, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin appeared on Fox News’ ’“Hannity.” During the interview, she defended Trump against what she claimed to be unfair treatment by the media .

“Donald Trump is the one being really treated unfairly I’d say though,” said Palin. “When they’re hammering him about the one issue that he’s brought up and not been shy about — and that’s the birth certificate — he’s merely answering reporters’ questions about his view on the birth certificate, and then reporters turn that around and say, ‘That’s all he’s got, he’s only running on a birth certificate issue,’ when that’s not the case.”

This is the second time Palin, a paid contributor for Fox News, has come to Trump’s defense, and, as the Post’s Jennifer Rubin writes, it will likely not the be the last. In an April 10 interview on Fox News’ “Judge Jeanine” show, Palin said:

I appreciate that the Donald wants to spend his resources on something that so interests him and so many Americans, you know more power to him.

Trump’s claims have been repeatedly debunked, but that has not stopped him and others from continuing to make false claims about the president’s birth certificate. The issue has received so much attention that top Republicans are actively working to squelch the story, fearful that it will damage the party. Arizona Republican Governor Jan Brewer vetoed a bill Monday that would have required presidential candidates to show a birth certificate or other document to prove their U.S. citizenship.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune quoted a spokesman for Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal saying that Jindal would sign a similar “birther” bill if it made it to his desk. Jindal appeared on NBC’s “Today” show Wednesday saying, “I absolutely believe he is a citizen. Let’s be clear. Look, my disagreements with this president are not about his citizenship or where he’s born.”

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Jindal was not the only Republican fielding the ‘birther’ question Wednesday morning. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), who has expressed interest in a presidential bid and leads the House Tea Party Caucus, appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America” and, after Stephanopoulos showed her a copy of the president’s birth certificate, said, “I guess it’s over.”

By  |  11:52 AM ET, 04/20/2011

 
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