Linda Chavez
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Is Donald Trump a closet Obama supporter? That's the only logical conclusion to draw from the Donald's recent foray into presidential politics. If he keeps up his kooky bid for the GOP nomination, he'll damage the party and its chances to win the White House in 2012. And if he's seriously considering running as an Independent -- as he's hinted he would if he fails to win the Republican nomination -- he virtually guarantees Barack Obama's re-election.

Trump may be entertaining -- millions of fans of his reality television shows seem to think so, though the appeal eludes me. But it's one thing for Trump to play rich bully for ratings and another to use his celebrity status to peddle wacky conspiracy theories that harm political discourse.

Trump single-handedly has given the "birther" issue new legs. In an advertisement this week in USA Today, Trump asks Obama "to be transparent with the American people and provide his birth certificate for forensic review."

"Birthers" -- and Trump seems to have joined their ranks -- claim that Obama is not eligible to be president because he isn't a "natural born citizen" as required by Article II of the Constitution. They base their theories on the false charge that Obama has never produced a valid copy of his birth certificate and therefore must be hiding something, namely that he was born someplace other than Hawaii, as he maintains.

During the 2008 election, people sometimes sent me newspaper articles that "proved" Obama was born in Kenya. When I'd point out the fake dateline or incorrect style headings attributed to the Associated Press or other newswires and numerous misspellings and grammatical errors that even a high school editor would have caught, they'd just send me more "evidence." I soon found that there's no convincing people whose ideas are based on hatred, not facts.

The facts are these: Obama produced a valid copy of his Hawaiian certificate of live birth before the 2008 election. The document--with its proper, three-dimensional seal and attestation by the state registrar that it is "a true copy and abstract of the records on file" clearly visible -- is readily available for viewing online at FactCheck.org, among other places.

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Linda Chavez

Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .

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