WASHINGTON (AP) -- Real estate tycoon Donald Trump said Thursday he hopes questions surrounding Barack Obama's U.S. citizenship won't be the defining issue if he's chosen as the Republican candidate to challenge the president's re-election.
Trump told NBC News in an interview that plans to decide by June whether to run. He said that if he's nominated, "I'd like to beat him straight up," not on the basis of the birth issue.
Trump said he didn't introduce the citizenship issue, but was asked about it during an interview a month ago. Since then, he said he's looked into it and believes "there is a big possibility" Obama may have violated the Constitution.
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Officials in Hawaii have certified that Obama was born in that state. But "birthers" have demanded additional proof, asserting he could have been born in Kenya. "I'm not convinced that he has one," Trump said of the birth certificate issue.
"I'd like to have him show his birth certificate," he said of Obama. "And to be honest with you, I hope he can."
Asked in an interview broadcast on the "Today" show how genuine his presidential ambition is, Trump said, "I always take things seriously, but I've never taken it seriously like this."
"I wish I didn't have to do it," he said.
"I wish this was the greatest place in the world," Trump said, but he also said jobs are disappearing in the United States and that Obama has given the country "a terrible presidency."
Trump said that if the current fight over budget issues forces a shutdown, "I think the president will be blamed."
He accused Obama of carrying out a confusing policy on the civil war in Libya, saying "nobody knows what's happening, and now it looks like (Libyan strongman Moammar) Gadhafi is going to beat the United States."
"I'm only interested in Libya if we get the oil," Trump said. He said Obama "doesn't have a doctrine (on foreign affairs.) Foreign affairs is, we take care of ourselves first"
Of Obama, he said, "I want him to do well. ... I love this country, but this country is going to hell. ... The world laughs at us. They won't be laughing if I'm elected president."
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