Despite the fact that Donald Trump reaffirmed today that he’s pretty sure President Obama “was born in Kenya,” Mitt Romney advisor Kevin Madden defended an upcoming joint fundraiser in Las Vegas today, arguing that Romney shouldn’t be held responsible for Trump’s birtherism.
In an interview with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, Madden noted that Romney has publicly repudiated the birther myth in the past, and would do it again, but stopped short of saying that the candidate will do it in Trump’s presence.
When Mitchell asked if Romney will “stand up next to Donald Trump and disavow that [myth],” Madden replied, “He’ll stand up next to Donald Trump and he’ll talk about why he wants to be president.” “Any time the subject goes off of that, or if something where … Governor Romney would disagree, he’s going to make that very clear,” Madden added, without saying whether that clarification would be to Trump’s face or after the event.
The standard the Romney campaign seems to be advancing here is that it’s OK for the candidate to appear on the same stage as a loon, as long as that loon doesn’t say the thing that makes him loony in the candidate’s presence. And if he does, the candidate can merely disavow it later. But it’s hard to imagine that the right would be comfortable with Obama appearing on the same stage as, say, Bill Ayers or Jeremiah Wright, even if neither said anything controversial in that moment.
Alex Seitz-Wald is Salon's political reporter. Email him at email@example.com, and follow him on Twitter @aseitzwald.