Chris Matthews: Can The GOP Really Nominate A Birther?

Lest we forget, Donald Trump was a big birther back in the day.

Donald Trump's involvement in the "birther" movement, which maintains President Barack Obama is not a natural-born citizen, could be a concern for the party as the businessman runs for the GOP presidential nomination, MSNBC's Chris Matthews said Tuesday.

Trump, who used to be one of the standard-bearers of the movement, has softened his position, but not by much. Just last month, he told CNN's Anderson Cooper that he "honestly [doesn't] know" whether the Obama was born in the U.S.

Matthews asked former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) on "Hardball" Tuesday whether the GOP can really nominate a candidate with such fringe views. 

"What's this game about and can you run a guy who doesn't even accept the legitimacy of his predecessor?" Matthews asked. "How can he succeed President Obama in office after he said he shouldn't be there because he's not a citizen?"

Barbour said Trump's birther views aren't his biggest problem. Rather, the threat of Trump possibly running as a third-party candidate should he lose the GOP nomination should be much more troubling for Republicans.

"If Trump runs as an independent, that basically gives the White House to the Democrats," he said.

Gabriel Arana is senior media editor at The Huffington Post.