A former Southern Baptist Convention officer who ran as a fringe-party candidate for U.S. vice president in 2008 is disputing presidential candidate Donald Trump’s allegation that the so-called birther movement was started by supporters of Hillary Clinton.
Wiley Drake, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Buena Park, Calif., and second vice-president of the 15-million-member Southern Baptist Convention in 2006-2007, claims that he and running mate Alan Keyes rightly deserve credit or blame for first surfacing questions about whether or not President Obama was born in the United States.
Drake said Sept. 29 on The Manning Report, an online series hosted by controversial Harlem, N.Y., Pastor James David Manning, that the birther controversy began when he and Keyes, a conservative political activist and former diplomat, were in Washington, D.C., filling out nomination papers to run for president and vice president of the United States in 2008.
Drake, nominated as Keyes’ vice presidential running mate by the America’s Independent Party, said as he and Keyes were finishing up the extensive application process, he noted on the back of a page the message: “If you have any other documentation please attach it as Addendum Item 1.”
“I turned to Dr. Keyes, and I said ‘Dr. Keyes, we know that that man in the White House is not Barack Hussein Obama but Barry Soetoro,’” Drake recalled.
Drake said Keyes responded, “Yes, that’s right,” and Drake suggested they both attach their birth certificates as an addendum to their applications. Drake said Keyes answered by saying, “That’s a great idea.”
Drake said he and Keyes then called on Obama to do the same, and for a long time he refused.
“Therein lies the beginning of the birther issue,” Drake said.
Keyes and Drake filed Drake v. Obama — one of a number of so-called birther lawsuits alleging Obama is not a natural born citizen of the United States and thereby unqualified to run for president — in federal court.
Drake said he has endorsed Trump for president but was disappointed when the Republican nominee said in nationally televised comments Sept. 16 that “President Barack Obama was born in the United States – period” and “now we all want to get back to making America strong and great again.”
Drake said he knows Trump is aware of a body of evidence supporting Drake’s claim that “we have an illegal alien” living in the White House compiled by lawyers including leading birther Orly Taitz in the lawsuit dismissed for lack of standing, because he asked Trump about it personally.
Drake said he still endorses Trump but believes it was a misstep for him to say the birther issue is unimportant.
Even though Drake said last fall that he is running for president himself without any party affiliation, he told Manning he has not withdrawn his Trump endorsement because of “the alternative,” Democratic nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton.
“I go way back with Hillary,” Drake said. “I helped Bill Clinton become the comeback kid in Arkansas back in the ‘80s.”
Drake, who is originally from Arkansas, said after Clinton was voted out of office after one term as governor of the state in 1980, Clinton credited him and other Southern Baptist pastors with helping him to regain the office in 1982.
“He was governor of the state, and then he lost the governor’s race,” Drake said. “He came to the pastors and said ‘I want to put righteousness back in the governor’s mansion,’ and we believed him.”
“He lied, and of course we helped him get back in the governor’s mansion,” Drake said. “I know those people well. I know Hillary well.”
Drake said the first person to call him after his election as second vice president of the SBC was Keyes, who knew him because Drake had appeared as a guest on his television show.
“He said, ‘Wiley, you know I’m not a Baptist — I’m a Catholic — but I wanted to call you to congratulate you on your election,’” Drake said.
“I said: ‘Well thank you Dr. Keyes. You know I love you and I know that you love Jesus and so forth, even though you’re not a Baptist, you love Jesus, and that’s good enough for me.’
“He said: ‘Well, let me tell you something else. I like what you and the Baptists are doing to try to bring America back to the word of God, and I want to be a part of that.’”
“Dr. Keyes said the only way to do that was to have a godly president,” Drake said. “He said, ‘I’m not only calling you to congratulate you on your election by the Southern Baptist Convention, but I’m calling to ask you to consider and to pray for me, because I’m going to run for president.’”
“I said congratulations to him,” Drake said. “Then he said, ‘but I want you to be my vice presidential candidate.’”