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While talking to CNN, Donald Trump said President Barack Obama himself wrote that he was born in Kenya. Is it true that the President's book said this?

When his publisher comes out with a statement from him made in the 1990s that he was born in Kenya and he was raised in Indonesia [...]

And all I know is last week somebody came out with a very strong statement saying that he stated himself that he was born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia. Now I didn't make that statement. That was made by I assume either the publisher or the President himself. And, that's the statement. That's a pretty hard statement to refute. That was a statement made prior to somebody knowing that he was going to be running for the presidency.

The Daily Trawler came out with an excerpt from a promotional booklet.

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No, it was never in his book, rather it was a promotional pamphlet circulated amongst other literary agents, which was not written by President Obama (nor was it approved, or even distributed to him). The person (Miriam Goderich) who wrote that particular promotional piece has admitted that it was a mistake.

"This was nothing more than a fact checking error by me--an agency assistant at the time," Goderich wrote in an emailed statement to Yahoo News. "There was never any information given to us by Obama in any of his correspondence or other communications suggesting in any way that he was born in Kenya and not Hawaii. I hope you can communicate to your readers that this was a simple mistake and nothing more."

The same article states (emphasis mine):

According to a promotional booklet produced by the agency, Acton & Dystel,

And the agent also states the same to this news agency. And they also state (emphasis mine):

for circulation within the publishing industry only

Even Breitbart (who doesn't buy into the birther nuttery) also states that the pamphlet was produced by the agency, and was not in President Obama's book:

Breitbart News has obtained a promotional booklet produced in 1991 by Barack Obama's then-literary agency, Acton & Dystel, which touts Obama as "born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia and Hawaii."

The booklet, which was distributed to "business colleagues" in the publishing industry, includes a brief biography of Obama among the biographies of eighty-nine other authors represented by Acton & Dystel.

Note the distinct assertions: produced by Acton & Dystel; distributed in the publishing industry; that this wasn't Obama's book, but rather a listing of 90 authors.

Now, I will give The Trump the benefit of some doubt, and he may just be mis-stating what he heard. However, his history of behaviour and bombastic (thanks Skava for reminding me of that word) style indicates this will become a revisionist position to Mr. Trump. Now that he has stated it, he will not retract from his position, no matter how wrong he may be.


Also related Is Barack Obama a natural born US citizen?

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    @Believer no, the answer is NO. A publicist said it, in a pamphlet. – Larian LeQuella Jun 1 '12 at 12:49
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    @Believer If you can read an answer that states clearly "Obama did NOT write that he was born in Kenya" and conclude that Obama wrote that he was born in Kenya, then you are beyond the help of rational people. – DJClayworth Jun 1 '12 at 13:02
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    @Believer is anyone claiming that he "approved" the publicist pamphlet? Again, this was meant to be a pamphlet that was circulated amongst publishers, and I am quite sure that President Obama himself didn't see it, nor did he write it, or even "approve" it. Agents do all sorts of things to promote their clients, most without even the client's knowledge. – Larian LeQuella Jun 1 '12 at 13:19
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    @Believer Both news reports state that it was written by an agent for internal use amongst publishers. Miriam Goderich wrote it. Acton & Dystel published and circulated it. What other references do you require? – Larian LeQuella Jun 1 '12 at 13:34
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    @Believer Consider this historic example of a simple (but not small) publishing mistake. When Alfred Nobel's brother Ludvig died a French newspaper published a obituary for Alfred thinking it was Alfred who died. Alfred was so upset about the content of his own obituary, which condemned him for his invention of dynamite, that he modified his will to establish and fund the Nobel Prizes upon his death so his legacy would be more positive. – Sam I Am Jun 7 '12 at 1:02
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As linked from the site you provided in the question, the Political Wire reports reports that the author of a promotional booklet that included a brief erroneous bio of Obama has explained:

You're undoubtedly aware of the brouhaha stirred up by Breitbart about the erroneous statement in a client list Acton & Dystel published in 1991 (for circulation within the publishing industry only) that Barack Obama was born in Kenya. This was nothing more than a fact checking error by me -- an agency assistant at the time. There was never any information given to us by Obama in any of his correspondence or other communications suggesting in any way that he was born in Kenya and not Hawaii. I hope you can communicate to your readers that this was a simple mistake and nothing more.

Note: This was a promotional booklet for his then-literary agent, Acton & Dystel. It is not part of his book of memoirs.

  • That Political Wire link unfortunately now gives me a "page not found." – purposeful porpoise Aug 2 '16 at 6:24

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