The Blaze’s Will Cain is generally treated as the token conservative on CNN’s “Starting Point” with Soledad O’Brien every morning. That mantle carries with it the responsibility to react to every idea branded as such. And even though Hillary Clinton started the “birther” movement — and even though so many conservatives have come out against it, including Mitt Romney — O’Brien demanded Cain answer a conspiracy theory-laced question about a Romney speech and birtherism.
According to O’Brien (and ABC News), Romney’s speech last night in Las Vegas included some secret code to birthers — mainly that he might be one of them. Here’s what Romney said:
“I was speaking with one of these business owners who owns a couple of restaurants in town. And he said, ‘You know, I’d like to change the constitution: I’d like to have a provision in the constitution that in addition to the age of the president and the citizenship of the president and the birthplace of the president being set by the constitution, I’d like it also to say that the president has to spend at least three years working in business before he could become President of the United States.’”
After playing the clip, O’Brien demanded Cain answer for the comment and her interpretation of it.
“Will Cain, what was that about?” she asked.
“I think that was about promoting businessmen as appropriate leaders of the United States,” Cain answered.
“Really?” O’Brien asked condescendingly. “You don’t think there was sort of anything interesting in talking about the constitution saying the age of the president and the birth place of the president and the citizenship of of the president, that long run-up to something about business which the Romney campaign campaign consistently says is their focus?”
“Come on,” Cain said as O’Brien tried to move to another panelist. “You said ‘Will Cain’ and you didn’t get the answer you liked.”
After some crosstalk, O’Brien levied a serious charge: “No, it’s not the answer I like. I think you’re not being honest with me.”
“Excuse me … when I’m accused of being dishonest, you can be assured I will respond,” Cain said in shock.
After O’Brien told him to continue, he responded: “I think that this is the unfortunate happenstance of including Donald Trump in your news coverage and letting him drive a birtherism, because then we get to expand the narrative to assume that every single thing that Mitt Romney says when he’s speaking on the value of business experience that you can read into that proverbially–.”
O’Brien, hell bent on proving the Romney is flirting with the birthers, tried to run the clip again. Cut Cain stopped her.
“No no no, we’ve heard it. You can play it as soon as I’m done, but let me please finish my statement here,” he said before completing his earlier thought: “That you can use that narrative to expand it to say that every little thing that Mitt Romney says in an excuse for endorsing birtherism.”
O’Brien played the clip again anyway and offered a theory: “On the day when ‘birther’ is something that Donald Trump has raised as your top story in the news you’re really going to do that?”
Mediaite has the heated exchange:
But O’Brien wasn’t done with the fireworks. She also had former NH Gov. John Sununu on the show and brought up the Trump birther issue immediately. But Sununu called her and CNN out for continuing to trumpet (pun intended) the issue.
“Why is CNN so fixated on this? Why don’t we talk about the jobs issue in this country?” he asked before adding, “It’s CNN that wants to bring it up. I don’t want to bring it up. Mitt Romney made it clear that he believes that President Obama was born in the U.S. You had Donald Trump on last night. And now you are asking the question this morning. It’s CNN’s fixation.”
It didn’t end there:
“It’s not an issue,” Sununu argued. “There is nobody in the Romney campaign that believes that the president was not born in the United States.”
“So then how come someone doesn’t say, Donald Trump is wrong?” O’Brien pressed.
“Donald Trump is wrong,” Sununu acknowledged. “The President was born in the United States.”
“That may be the first time,” O’Brien grinned.
“No it isn’t, ma’am,” Sununu snapped. “It’s just because you don’t read enough.”
You can watch that exchange below:
This story has been updated.