Donald Trump says he won’t ask birther questions during debate, but doesn’t bury the issue

Dylan Stableford
The Cutline

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Donald Trump, who spent much of the spring questioning President Barack Obama's U.S. citizenship, says he still isn't sure that Obama was born in the United States. Nevertheless, he says he'll be giving the topic a rest when he moderates a Republican debate in Des Moines later this month.

"Look, the most important issue is jobs," Trump said during rather a testy interview with Chuck Todd on MSNBC on Monday. "Whether or not he was born here--you know, to me it means something. I guess it doesn't mean a lot to a lot of people, to me it happens to mean something. The fact that they can't find any records that his mother was in the hospital--that, to me, means something. [But] a lot of people don't care."

Trump initially lashed out at Todd's introduction on MSNBC.

"You said, 'Donald Trump wanted to respond to a poll,'" Trump said "Well, I didn't want to respond. I didn't know what poll you were talking about. Your people called my office about 40 times asking me to go on the show. So it's dishonest, what you're saying, Chuck. I wish you would just sort of say it like it is. I think you would do better. I honestly think you would get better ratings."

The reality host added: "I'm doing NBC a favor by going onto your show."

Trump eventually did respond to a poll that said his endorsement of a GOP candidate would make them less likely to vote for that candidate.

"It depends on how the [poll] question is asked, because I know a lot about polls. I studied polls at the Wharton School of Finance," Trump said. "You mean to tell me someone is going to be worse off if I endorse them? I don't think so, because I have a huge following of people who are tired of seeing our country ripped off by China and OPEC and virtually every other nation."

Trump is slated to host the Newsmax-sponsored Dec. 27 debate, which for the moment has just one confirmed candidate: Newt Gingrich. But the "Celebrity Apprentice" host is confident "all of the important" candidates will sign on. According to Trump, that category does not include Jon Hunstman, whose campaign officials are denying Trump's claims that they had tried to set up a meeting with him.

"Mr. Huntsman called my office a number of times trying to set up a meeting, then he went on a debate and said 'I didn't meet with Mr. Trump like everybody else in the room,' " Trump said.  "I'm sure he'll tell the truth about it, since he's a Mormon."

A Huntsman spokesman said he looks "forward to watching Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich suck up to Trump with a big bowl of popcorn" and Paul's spokesman Jesse Benton said the event was "beneath the office of the Presidency."

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