By CNN Political Unit
(CNN) — Some at the North Carolina state Republican convention may have chosen chicken or fish. But Donald Trump served up all red meat in his keynote dinner address Friday evening.
Trump, a high-profile supporter Mitt Romney, transitioned from effusive praise of the party’s presidential candidate to questions about President Barack Obama’s birthplace and an oblique suggestion that waging war with Iran may be “good politics” for someone seeking reelection.
“There’s one line called ‘place of birth,'” Trump said, speaking of Obama’s college records. “I’d like to see what he said. It would be very interesting. I don’t care what his marks were. I don’t care if he had good marks, I’d just like to see ‘place of birth.'”
“Perhaps it’s going to say Hawaii,” the real estate magnate and reality TV celebrity continued. “Perhaps it’s going to say Kenya.”
After reading from a 1990s pamphlet promoting one of Obama’s books that described him as “born in Kenya” – a mistake for which the publisher recently apologized – Trump accused “the press” of protecting Obama by failing to deem credible his view.
The White House released Obama’s long-form birth certificate in 2011, showing he was born in a Hawaii hospital on August 4, 1961. Only “natural born” citizens of the United States are eligible to be president.
Shortly after that announcement, Trump – who’d said he was commissioning an investigation into Obama’s birthplace – declared that he would not run for president.
Yet he’s kept the controversy alive, as he did again Friday – even as he insisted, “I don’t really like talking about the place of birth.
“I’m not a believer, so we’ll see what happens,” Trump said.
Trump, whose real estate holdings include a golf course in Charlotte, spared few in his remarks. He was critical of diplomats, said he has no respect for most political pundits and accused reporters – save a few – of being generally “dishonest.”
He addressed employment statistics released earlier that day, which showed businesses nationwide adding only 69,000 jobs and the unemployment rate raising up from 8.1% to 8.2%
“All of this is bad news, and frankly you could say good news for the Republicans in terms of an election. But I don’t care, we love the country first, so it’s bad news as far as I’m concerned,” he said.
He said that war with Iran over their nuclear program “may be good politics” – seemingly implicating Obama, though he did not name him.
Trump floated a scenario “like somebody wanting to get elected, and the only way he’s going to do that is to start a war with Iran.”
The president has said he will keep all options on the table, clarifying in March that his pledge to “always have Israel’s back” is “not a military doctrine that we were laying out for any particular military action.”
Given Israel’s geographic proximity to Iran and animosities between the two nations, it is seen as especially at risk were Iran to develop nuclear weaponry.
Obama said at a summit of world leaders in April that this spring’s talks with Iran were no rote exercise, but were aimed at solving the standoff peacefully.
“I’ve been very clear to Iran and to our negotiating partners that we’re not going to have these talks just drag out in a stalling process,” he said.
Along with the criticism of others, Trump praised Romney for having “a lot of heart” and for his record as a businessman.
Reflecting on his own presidential bid last spring and his tendency to voice his opinions, Trump seemed to revel Friday in being outspoken politically whatever its potential impact on his popularity or his starring role on NBC’s “The Apprentice.”
“I’m sure I’ll get in trouble for some of the things I said, but I don’t care,” he said.
This speech was not one he could have given as a presidential candidate, he suggested.
“The nice part about not being a politician is I can say what I want. And if people like it that’s fine, if they don’t like it, that’s OK, too,” the tycoon said.