LAS VEGAS — Mitt Romney's presidential campaign collided with Donald Trump's "birther" rhetoric on Tuesday as the reality television star hosted a fundraiser for the Republican while claiming again that President Barack Obama is foreign-born.
The debunked conspiracy theory among conservative activists dubbed "birthers" charges that Obama is not constitutionally qualified to serve in the White House. Romney has said he believes Obama was born in America, but he has not condemned Trump's comments.
Democrats contend it's the latest example of Romney's reluctance to confront the more extreme elements in his party.
"A lot of people do not think it was an authentic certificate," Trump told CNN of Obama's birth certificate, just hours before he was set to host Romney's finance event at the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas.
Such allegations have been repeatedly proven false. The state of Hawaii recently re-affirmed that Obama was born there.
Trump's comments, repeated in several media interviews Tuesday, overshadowed Romney's visit to Nevada, one of a handful of swing states expected to decide the presidential contest in November. Trump also upstaged news from Texas that Romney had collected enough delegates to clinch the Republican presidential nomination.
Romney did not address the issue directly at separate events in Colorado and Nevada, but on Monday night he told reporters aboard his campaign plane that Trump is entitled to his opinion. Even as Trump-related criticism from Democrats and Republicans intensified in recent days, Romney showed no sign of distancing himself from the polarizing figure.
"I don't agree with all the people who support me. And my guess is they don't all agree with everything I believe in," Romney said. "But I need to get 50.1 percent or more. And I'm appreciative to have the help of a lot of good people."
Trump remains popular among the conservative base and boasts ties to deep-pocketed donors.