Trump and Bachmann: Peas in a Birther Pod?

In the large Republican presidential primary field, there aren't many prospective candidates talking about President Obama's birthplace.

Two of them, however, are Donald Trump and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.).

In a recent Fox News interview this week with "Justice with Judge Jeanine," Bachmann suggested Obama has "neglected" to confront questions about his birthplace:

It's an interesting issue that has gone on for so long, and it's one that the president could have solved very early on. All he had to do was just answer some questions and show his document, and then people do an attestation that this in fact is a legal document, and it's over, it's done. And I think the president has neglected to focus on answering that question for people, and that's why a lot of people still have it lingering on their minds.

I could be mistaken, but Bachmann, Trump, and Sarah Palin seem to be the only prospective 2012 candidates questioning the president's birthplace. During a live interview, Mike Huckabee suggested Obama grew up in Kenya, but a spokesman quickly walked that back, saying the former governor had misspoken while referring to Obama's childhood time in Indonesia and believes Obama was born in Hawaii. Herman Cain says he doesn't know whether Obama was born in the U.S., but he hasn't studied it and doesn't have an opinion.

There is a difference between the birtheristic perspectives of Bachmann and Trump.

While Trump has aggressively called on Obama to prove he was born in the U.S., and has constructed a media campaign on doubts over Obama's birthplace, Bachmann was critiquing birtherism and Obama's response to it, analyzing why it persists, and offering a suggestion, however implausible, that Obama should do something to address it.

You can say she played to public misconceptions, but you can also say she made a point that's broadly valid, in that Obama could have conceivably handled things differently. As The Atlantic's Joshua Green points out, it may have been a mistake to issue a copy of his certificate of live birth. As Green also notes, federal law prohibits people from obtaining his original certificate. News outlets such as CNN say they've looked at it in person, but on Bachmann's suggestion about letting some legal expert examine it, the White House seems to have zero interest in pursuing this beyond letting news outlets look at it, so, while the connotation may seem off, one can accurately say the "White House" is "neglecting" to do more with the actual certificate.

Not too many potential partners exist for Trump in 2012. Even if it's dubious that he will ever mount a legitimate campaign, it's equally difficult to imagine him running as Palin's VP nominee. There's no reason either Trump or Palin would play second fiddle to anyone.

In the unlikely event that Trump runs and wins the nomination -- or mounts an independent bid -- Bachmann is probably the only bona fide politician who could run with him.

Presented by

Chris Good is a political reporter for ABC News. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and a reporter for The Hill.

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