Donald Trump on Tuesday made his much-awaited appearance on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, and Colbert asked the billionaire the question America has been dying to know: Does Trump still believe President Barack Obama wasn't born in the US?
"I don't talk about it anymore," Trump responded. "I talk about jobs. I talk about our veterans being horribly treated. I just don't discuss it anymore."
This might seem like a pretty typical dodge for a politician, but that's actually what makes it so remarkable. Trump isn't a typical politician, and he's not supposed to be. Perhaps the explanation for Trump's rise in the polls is his candid approach to the issues, which his supporters see as a rebuke of political correctness in the US, and others see as horrifyingly offensive.
Yet Trump completely dodged the question — essentially walking back from previous controversies in which he drew national attention by demanding Obama release his birth certificate, earning Trump the "birther" moniker. (Obama eventually obliged by releasing his long-form birth certificate.)
This dodge on the birther issue has been standard for the Trump campaign, going back to a July CNN interview in which he said he's no longer interested in the issue — but at least back then he acknowledged he still wasn't sure Obama was born in the US.
But it's an interesting line for Trump to draw in his campaign, given that he's already embraced so many controversies — from xenophobic, racist remarks about Mexican immigrants to misogynistic comments about various women, including Fox News host Megyn Kelly and Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina. Maybe it suggests that even Trump has limits, or perhaps he's just worried about drowning himself (and his campaign) in the ridiculous birther controversy once again — a very politician-like move.
Most of Colbert's interview with Trump was pretty timid
For all the hype about Colbert's interview with Trump, most of it was pretty timid. Colbert constantly poked fun at Trump, but the billionaire seemed to ignore (or not get) the comedic jabs and instead talk about his anti-immigration platform, veterans, and how he's amazed at all the support he's getting.
One telling part of the interview, at the end, came when Colbert asked Trump to guess whether previous statements were said by Trump or Colbert, when the comedian was still playing what he called an "over-the-top conservative character." Trump was able to guess correctly all but one time, perhaps showing that he's really self-aware about how inflammatory his campaign can be. (The one statement he messed up — "It's freezing and snowing in New York. We need global warming!" — Trump said, "Well, I think it's you, but it's close to being me." Trump, it turns out, made the statement.)
"You know you really well," Colbert said.
That's what makes Trump so outside the norm — he knows he's inflammatory, even outwardly racist and misogynist at times, but doesn't seem to care.