Patti Solis Doyle, who was Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager in 2008 until the Iowa caucuses, admitted on Friday that a Clinton campaign staffer had, in fact, circulated the Birther conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was born outside the U.S. and therefore potentially ineligible to serve in the presidency.
Doyle made the admission on Twitter, as she responded to former George W. Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer. Fleischer said that Clinton’s staff had spread the rumor. Doyle said that was a “lie” — but admitted, in the same tweet, that she had fired the “rogue” staffer who had used email to spread the Birther conspiracy theory.
Doyle appeared about an hour later on CNN with Wolf Blitzer to address the issue once again. She denied that Hillary Clinton had started the Birther theory — then admitted that someone in the Clinton campaign had, in fact, been involved. Here is part their exchange:
Blitzer: Someone supporting Hillary Clinton was trying to promote this so-called Birther issue? What happened?
Doyle: So we — absolutely, the campaign nor Hillary did not start the Birther movement, period, end of story there. There was a volunteer coordinator, I believe, in late 2007, I believe, in December, one of our volunteer coordinators in one of the counties in Iowa — I don’t recall whether they were an actual paid staffer, but they did forward an email that promoted the conspiracy.
Blitzer: The Birther conspiracy?
Doyle: Yeah, Hillary made the decision immediately to let that person go. We let that person go. And it was so, beyond the pale, Wolf, and so not worthy of the kind of campaign that certainly Hillary wanted to run.
Doyle went on to relate how she personally called Obama campaign manager David Plouffe to apologize, and he accepted. Blitzer then asked her about the Mark Penn memorandum, in which the campaign’s strategist proposed exploiting Obama’s “lack of American roots.” Doyle asserted, and Blitzer agreed, that the memo had nothing to do with Birtherism.
Earlier Friday morning, in a speech in Washington, D.C. largely devoted to veterans and military endorsements, Republican nominee Donald Trump briefly addressed the Birther issue:
Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the Birther controversy. I finished it. I finished it. You know what I mean. President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period. Now we all want to get back to making America strong and great again. Thank you very much.
Journalists, furious that they had devoted nearly a half hour of coverage to Trump’s veterans event before he addressed the Birther issue they wished to press, asserted on several networks and platforms that Trump had falsely accused Clinton of starting the Birther controversy.