The Obama Hustle

The Rediscovered Truth About Barack H Obama

The so-called birther movement ?

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Birther Movement (Obama Birth Certificate)

Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press

Updated: Aug. 24, 2012

The so-called birther movement began during the 2008 campaign when some of Barack Obama’s critics claimed, without offering proof, that he was born in Kenya, like his father, Barack Obama Sr. The Constitution states that no one born in another country is eligible to become president.

The charge has become a potent rallying point among Tea Party supporters, was a factor in the early stages of the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination and has led to legislation being introduced in a number of states to require candidates to certify their eligibility for office. Democrats have often responded with derision, and have criticized Republican leaders for failing to speak out against a conspiracy theory the president’s supporters see as being meant to undermine the legitimacy of Mr. Obama’s election.

The elder Mr. Obama was an exchange student at the University of Hawaii when he met and married Mr. Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham. The Obama campaign ultimately responded by releasing a “certification of live birth,” an official document from the Hawaii Department of Health, and posting it online on the White House Web site.

On April 27, 2011, President Obama posted a “long form’’ birth certificate from the state of Hawaii online at the White House Web site. It shows conclusively that Mr. Obama was born in Honolulu and is signed by state officials and his mother. In Hawaii, the “long form’’ certificates are not made public, and “certifications of live birth” are issued instead. The White House said that Mr. Obama had authorized Hawaii to release the long-form document broadly.

Mr. Obama acted in the face of poll results showing that almost half of Republican voters believed he had been born in another country and that almost a quarter said they did not know where he was born. Donald Trump, the real-estate mogul, had briefly surged in polls of Republican voters after he made questions about Mr. Obama’s birth a centerpiece of his public appearances.

The issue entered the presidential race again in August 2012, when Mitt Romney, then the presumptive Republican nominee, seemed to make a joke about President Obama’s birth certificate while speaking to voters in his home state of Michigan.

“Now I love being home in this place where Ann and I were raised, where both of us were born,” Mr. Romney said, standing alongside his wife, Ann, and his running mate, Representative Paul D. Ryan. “Ann was born in Henry Ford Hospital. I was born in Harper Hospital. No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place that we were born and raised.”

The Romney campaign quickly scrambled to walk back his comments, saying he was simply sharing his Michigan pride. “The governor has always said, and has repeatedly said, he believes the president was born here in the United States,” said Kevin Madden, an adviser to Mr. Romney, who served as governor of Massachusetts.

During the 2008 campaign, two fact-checking groups, FactCheck.org and PolitiFact, had concluded the certificiation of live birth was authentic. A reporter for The Honolulu Advertiser also found two separate newspaper announcements of the president’s birth, one in The Advertiser on Aug. 13, 1961, and another in The Honolulu Star-Bulletin the next day. Both carried the words “Mr. and Mrs. Barack H. Obama, 6085 Kalanianaole Highway, son, Aug. 4.”

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Still, the questions persisted. The certificate number is blacked out on the Internet copy, and Mr. Obama’s detractors demanded the release of his original long-form birth certificate, which in Hawaii is not considered a public record. The state was so besieged by inquiries that the governor, Linda Lingle, a Republican, signed a law allowing officials to ignore the queries as nuisances.

“I certainly hope by the fourth year of our administration that we’ll have dealt with this burgeoning birth controversy,” the White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, told reporters in 2009. The fact-checkers at PolitiFact sounded similarly frustrated in a 2009 post: they thought they had put the matter to rest. “Oh, how naïve we were,” the post’s writer, Robert Farley, said.

But the issue remained potent among conservative voters. In April 2011, a New York Times-CBS News poll found that a plurality of Republican voters, 47 percent, said they believed Mr. Obama was born in another country; 22 percent said they did not know where he was born, and 32 percent said they believed he was born in the United States.

Among all voters, the same poll found that 57 percent of adults surveyed nationwide said Mr. Obama was born in the United States, versus 25 percent who said he was born in another country.

The issue helped give a boost to the potential presidential bid of Mr. Trump, who spoke often of his “real doubts” about whether Mr. Obama was born in this country and sent investigators to Hawaii to research the issue. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showed Mr. Trump as the most favored candidate among Republicans who consider themselves Tea Party supporters.

On the other hand, several prominent conservatives, including Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly, have criticized Mr. Trump for raising questions about it.

Michelle Bachmann, another potential presidential candidate, told Fox News in mid-April that the president could clear up the matter by showing his birth certificate. In an interview with Sean Hannity, she said: “Let’s solve this and get it over with.”

One day later, Ms. Bachmann deemed herself satisfied when George Stephanopoulos of ABC News produced the certification of live birth, which is complete with a registration number, a signature from the registrar and a seal from the state of Hawaii. “Well then,” Ms. Bachmann said, “that should settle it.”

So-called birther bills have foundered or fallen dormant in at least five states and are still being debated in more than a half-dozen others. In Arizona, where both legislative chambers passed one such bill, Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, vetoed it, calling it “a bridge too far.”

Oklahoma, a deeply conservative state, could be the first to put its doubts into law, through a bill that would require all candidates, from Town Council hopeful on up, to provide certified proof that they meet the legal requirements for office.

Supporters of the measure, and others like it from Georgia to Montana, protest that they are not “birthers,” as doubters of Mr. Obama’s natal provenance have been dubbed, sometimes derisively. They say that they simply want to clarify the status of all candidates and that Mr. Obama’s case has only sharpened the issue and illuminated what they call a glaring hole in the statutes.

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