Yet behind those breezy dismissals, there’s a recognition among Cruz allies that, given Trump’s ability to dominate a news cycle, the issue is a considerable distraction.
“Virtually every news story, TV show coverage, is bringing up the birther issue and Trump’s statements on it, it’s clearly in the mainstream media right now, people are hearing about it, talking about it, and you have to address it,” said Saul Anuzis, the former chairman of the Michigan GOP, who has informally advised the Cruz campaign on some matters but stressed that he was not speaking for the campaign on this issue. “You can’t just ignore it. And that’s why he’s doing, in my opinion, this two-pronged approach — being definitive on the legal aspects of it, and secondly, making clear this is nothing more than politics.”…
Tommy Vietor, a veteran of the Obama administration who is well-acquainted with the fever swamps of the birther debate, said Trump “can screw up an entire week of your coverage, and in this late phase of the campaign, that’s a huge problem.”
Vietor saw it firsthand — he was involved in the release of the president’s short form birth certificate in 2008. In 2011, Trump stoked the debate over the birthplace of Obama, who was born in Hawaii.