CNN Anchor Taken Aback When GOP Guest Ties Clinton Camp to Birtherism

As CNN Newsroom host Poppy Harlow on Saturday tried to suggest Republicans like John Kasich deserve blame for not speaking out against Donald Trump when he was pushing birtherism against President Barack Obama several years ago, she was taken aback when her guest, Ohio GOP chairman Matt Borges, turned the tables by implicating Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign in dabbling in similar mischief against her then-opponent Senator Obama.

At 5:45 p.m. ET, after playing a clip of Ohio Governor Kasich complaining about Trump creating a "toxic environment" by "preying on the fears of people," as the GOP presidential candidate responded to recent violence at a Trump rally in Chicago, the CNN host turned to her guest and tried to indict Kasich as she posed:

But what about those who argue, "Where was Kasich? Where were the other members of the GOP establishment during the past few years as some in the party attacked the President, President Obama with false claims, talking about where he was born, his citizenship, and many of them just stood by? Where was he then?"?

After recounting that Kasich's campaign has been mostly positive, Borges brought up Clinton supporters from 2008 having pushed birtherism:

All those things you brought up were actually created by the Democrats, were created by Hillary Clinton in 2008, and some of the wild things that Donald Trump says, we just don't think are representative of our party-

A confused Harlow, who seemed unfamiliar with the reports about Clinton supporters raising similar issues against Obama in 2008, struggled to jump in:

What? What? Wait, wait. What, what do you, wait, what do you mean? What do you -- what do you mean? What do you mean when you say those were created by Hillary Clinton? What do you mean?

Borges explained:

I mean the, I mean the birther movement. I mean, I mean the birther movement. I mean the notion that somehow Barack Obama was a secret Muslim. ... Those things came out of the 2008 very ugly Democratic primary that went on on their side that lasted until June, and then of course Barack Obama became their nominee and then ended up winning the presidency, so-

The CNN host followed up: "Can you clarify for me how you're pointing to Hillary Clinton for starting the birther movement against the current President?"

Borges added:

Well, I think it's well-documented that that was, in fact, where this all came from, the 2008 primary that the Clinton campaign started these rumors about Barack Obama, and they were still able to come together as a family for the Democratic party. Our party will heal, and, on Tuesday, when John Kasich wins the Ohio primary, we'll start to set this election on a much different course.

Harlow, who had begun the interview trying to indict Kasich over birtherism he never had anything to do with, concluded by trying to downplay Clinton's culpability for what members of her campaign had done, and then pivoted back to trying to tie other non-birther Republicans to Trump's birtherism:

All right, Hillary Clinton, just, we're gonna move on, but Hillary Clinton never asked for the President's, you know, then-Senator Barack Obama's birth certificate. Donald Trump led a lot of it, and a lot of people, and Mitt Romney wanted Donald Trump's endorsement and got it at the time, and he was the leading candidate on your side.

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Saturday, March 10, CNN Newsroom with Poppy Harlow:

5:45 p.m. ET

POPPY HARLOW: Your candidate said today, regarding this violence that broke out in Chicago last night ahead of the Trump rally, here's what your candidate said today.

(Clip of John Kasich complaining that Donald Trump has created a "toxic environment" by "preying on the fears of people")

HARLOW: But what about those who argue, "Where was Kasich? Where were the other members of the GOP establishment during the past few years as some in the party attacked the President, President Obama with false claims, talking about where he was born, his citizenship, and many of them just stood by? Where was he then?"?

MATT BORGES, OHIO REPUBLICAN PARTY CHAIRMAN: Well, John Kasich has been running a positive campaign throughout this entire effort in his run for President, and I don't think anyone would ever argue anything otherwise. All those things you brought up were actually created by the Democrats, were created by Hillary Clinton in 2008, and some of the-

HARLOW: What? What? Wait, wait.

BORGES: -wild things that Donald Trump says, we just don't think are representative of our party-

HARLOW: What, what do you, wait, what do you mean? What do you -- what do you mean? What do you mean when you say those were created by Hillary Clinton? What do you mean?

BORGES: I mean the, I mean the birther movement. I mean, I mean the birther movement. I mean the notion that-

HARLOW: You're saying Hillary Clinton is to blame for the birth-

BORGES: -somehow Barack Obama was a secret Muslim. Those things came out of the-

HARLOW: You're saying Hillary Clinton is to blame for the birther movement?

BORGES: Those things came out of the 2008, those things came out of the 2008 very ugly Democratic primary that went on on their side that lasted until June, and then of course Barack Obama became their nominee and then ended up winning the presidency, so-

HARLOW: Can you clarify for me how you're pointing to Hillary Clinton for starting the birther movement against the current President?

BORGES: Well, I think it's well-documented that that was, in fact, where this all came from, the 2008 primary that the Clinton campaign started these rumors about Barack Obama, and they were still able to come together as a family for the Democratic party. Our party will heal, and, on Tuesday, when John Kasich wins the Ohio primary, we'll start to set this election on a much different course.

HARLOW: All right, Hillary Clinton, just, we're gonna move on, but Hillary Clinton never asked for the President's, you know, then-Senator Barack Obama's birth certificate. Donald Trump led a lot of it, and a lot of people, and Mitt Romney wanted Donald Trump's endorsement and got it at the time, and he was the leading candidate on your side.

Brad Wilmouth
Brad Wilmouth is a contributing blogger to NewsBusters