Eric Cantor downplays Donald Trump's birther-centric proto-candidacy

In a sign that Donald Trump’s self-promotion tour and possible run for president continues to make the Republican establishment nervous, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on Wednesday minimized the wealthy developer’s run because he was focusing on President Obama’s birthplace.

“I don’t think he is really serious when we … see a campaign launched on the birther issue,” said Cantor, R- Va., speaking on CNN’s “American Morning.”

Trump has become almost a fixture on cable television shows in recent weeks as he has resurrected the issue of where the president was born. The Obama campaign long ago released documents showing Obama was born in Hawaii, but Trump has increasingly challenged that and has even said he has sent investigators to seek out details.

Trump’s comments and the publicity he has drawn has played to some of the more conservative parts of the GOP electorate and his popularity has soared in recent polls of Republican voters. Trump was running second in a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll and in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll released Tuesday, Trump tied with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee for first among those answering whom they would support for the GOP nomination.

Trump’s rise is being viewed as a signal of the weakness of the GOP field, with about half a dozen candidates swapping the top position depending on who is doing the poll and another dozen candidates forming a second tier.

Asked why he thought Trump was doing so well, Cantor said he believed that the issues, particularly the deficit and budget, would eventually be a factor in choosing the Republican standard-bearer. Cantor, like some other top Republicans, said he didn’t think Trump was the party’s best hope to defeat President Obama in 2012.

“You know, it’s very early on in the political season,” Cantor said. “I think that there are some very weighty issues that we’re going to have to tackle.

“What the American people are going to look for in a candidate for president in 2012 is I think someone who can be honest with the American people and face facts as far as the debt problem is concerned and lay out there what we’re trying to do as Republicans in Congress, and say it’s_the time is up for kicking the can down the road, and we’ve got to prescribe a solution to fix the problems we’re facing,” he said.

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