THE RACE: Trump not first to upstage a candidate

AP News
Posted: May 30, 2012 3:45 PM
THE RACE: Trump not first to upstage a candidate

Donald Trump may have briefly sidetracked Mitt Romney's campaign message in Las Vegas with his renewed "birther" talk, but it isn't the first time an opinionated supporter has put a candidate in an awkward position.

In 2008, candidate Barack Obama had to distance himself from his former longtime pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, following the Chicago clergyman's incendiary rhetoric and contentious public appearances. Obama also faced questions about his relationships with 1960s radical Bill Ayers and convicted Chicago businessman Antoin "Tony" Rezko.

John McCain had pastor troubles, too. The 2008 GOP nominee secured primary endorsements from pastors John Hagee of Texas and Rod Parsley of Ohio, but later disavowed them because of their controversial sermons.

McCain also was partly upstaged by his lightly vetted running mate, then-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Earlier this month, Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker put Obama in a tough spot when he described as "nauseating" Obama campaign attack ads against Bain Capital, the private equity firm co-founded by Romney. Booker subsequently backed off.

Trump hasn't backtracked from his suggestion that Obama wasn't born in the United States despite solid evidence that he was. He discussed it anew in TV interviews as Romney savored the Texas primary victory that put him over the top.

Romney doesn't subscribe to Trump's claims, his aides say, but he hasn't taken a public stance on them _ or spurned the real-estate mogul's fundraising help.

Another ex-rival, Newt Gingrich, has also endorsed Romney. But, like Trump, the former House speaker isn't known for an eagerness to share the spotlight.

Obama on Wednesday signed a bill reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank, a measure he said would help American businesses create jobs.

Romney was continuing his push to raise money with fundraisers in wealthy California enclaves. This time, Trump won't be along.


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