A fed-up White House yesterday for the first time took the bait on Donald Trump's relentless, months-long questioning of whether President Obama is a US citizen.
A top Obama aide lashed out at the real-estate tycoon, reality-show star and GOP presidential hopeful on national television, saying his fledgling campaign is a "sideshow" and he has "zero chance" of ever living in the White House.
"That's not leadership. That's kind of sideshow behavior," White House senior adviser David Plouffe charged on ABC's "This Week."
Trump, who is flirting with a run for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination and has been rising in the polls, has single-handedly revived questions about whether Obama is actually foreign born and therefore constitutionally ineligible to be president. (Continue reading here)
He simultaneously rocketed to second place in the nomination race among Republicans and first place among Tea Partiers in a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll.
"I saw Donald Trump kind of rising in some polls," Plouffe said. "I hope he keeps on rising because there's zero chance that Donald Trump would ever be hired by the American people to do this job."
"There may be a small part of the country that believes these [birthplace questions], but mainstream Americans think it's a sideshow," he said, adding that voters want leaders who focus on real issues.
Some Capitol Hill insiders were surprised by Plouffe's outburst.
"I'd guess the 'birther' stuff got under their skin," a top Republican aide on Capitol Hill said.
And Trump didn't hesitate to fire back yesterday.