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Politico: GOP Headache - "the birther issue"


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GOP headache: The birther issue

When lawmakers return home for recess in August, they can expect to hear tough questions from constituents on the economy, health care and government spending.

But Republicans are preparing for something else: the birthers.

As GOP Rep. Mike Castle learned the hard way back home in Delaware this month, there’s no easy way to deal with the small but vocal crowd of right-wing activists who refuse to believe that President Barack Obama was born in the United States.

At a town hall meeting in Georgetown, a woman demanded to know why Castle and his colleagues were “ignoring” questions about Obama’s birth certificate — questions that have been put to rest repeatedly by state officials in Hawaii, where the birth certificate and all other credible evidence show that Obama was born in Honolulu on Aug. 4, 1961.

When Castle countered that Obama is, in fact, “a citizen of the United States,” the crowd erupted in boos, the woman seized control of the gathering and led a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. The video went viral; by Sunday, it had been viewed on YouTube more than half a million times.

And birthers say members should expect more of the same in the coming weeks.

“Absolutely,” says California resident Orly Taitz, the Russian-born attorney/dentist who has become a kind of ringleader for the movement. “It is a very important issue, one that politicians should have taken up a long time ago.”

Moments after speaking with POLITICO Saturday, Taitz posted a call to arms on her blog:

“I believe it is a serious concern and I hope that each and every decent American comes to town hall meetings with a video camera and demands action,” she wrote.

Having seen his colleague Castle come under attack, Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) is taking no chances.

“Before I got back to Michigan before the break, we’ll go through it, so that we’re versed in it,” Hoekstra said recently. “Just like anything else, if you see a hot issue ... it’s sort of like, ‘Let me go take a look at this and see what the status is.’”

Hoekstra believes there’s no “compelling case” questioning Obama’s origins. But after talking to Castle about his town hall, he knows that he’d better be ready with an answer.

The trick: What do you say?

Of the various approaches a put-on-the-spot pol can take, each carries its own risk of alienating constituents. Pick up a pitchfork in the cause of this conspiracy theory, and you risk damaging your reputation in the mainstream while aligning yourself with a movement some regard as having racist undertones.

Rep. John Campbell (R-Calif.), co-sponsor of legislation that would force candidates to show their birth certificates, was widely mocked after he told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews that Obama is a U.S. citizen — “as far as I know.”

However, members who decide to challenge the conspiracy theory, as Castle did mildly, risk ticking off a shrill minority who can upend their events and then post the video on the Web.

And those who try to split the difference may find themselves getting doubly burned.

At a Wyoming town hall in April, birthers jumped on freshman Republican Rep. Cynthia Lummis.

“I’m not questioning your concern,” Lummis told the crowd, according to the Wyoming Eagle Tribune. “I am questioning whether there is credible evidence.”

The congresswoman ended up asking for anyone who had “evidence” to send it to her.

At a walk-in meeting in Sen. Tom Coburn’s Washington office, birthers gave the Oklahoma Republican’s chief of staff nine pages of documentation in support of their claims. The group later billed the meeting a success on one of Taitz’s blogs.

But when asked about the meeting, Coburn spokesman Don Tatro said that the office was simply trying to be “polite” and that “it is possible to mistake politeness for agreement.”

According to his office, Colorado Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn has received 33 inquiries about Obama’s origins, with 10 coming in over the past week.

So far, Hoekstra hasn’t faced any such questions.

“When you’re in a state with 15.2 percent unemployment,” he said, “most people have other things on their mind than this.”

But as if to illustrate the touchiness of the subject, Hoekstra quickly added: “Not that this isn’t important.”

Sen. Jim Inhofe has also tried to find the elusive middle ground.

“They have a point,” he said of the birthers. “I don’t discourage it. ... But I’m going to pursue defeating [Obama] on things that I think are very destructive to America.”

Out-party politicians have long had to deal with conspiracy theorists on their side — the people who think that the Clintons killed Vince Foster or that the Bush administration helped orchestrate the Sept. 11 attacks.

“Twenty-five percent of my people believe the Pentagon and Rumsfeld were responsible for taking the twin towers down,” said Rep. Collin Peterson, a Democrat who represents a conservative Republican district in Minnesota. “That’s why I don’t do town meetings.”

But the birther phenomenon may present a bigger challenge — a potent blend of race and politics, fueled by conservative TV and radio pundits, and played out in a day when all that stands between a town hall meeting and Web omnipresence is a $100 flip cam.

Republican pollster Whit Ayers says that a member confronted with birther questions should immediately pivot the conversation back to big issues.

“You simply indicate that in a country where our fiscal policy is driving us toward bankruptcy, where we are wrestling with major issues of health care reform and fighting two wars for our safety, you don’t have time to deal with wild conspiracy theories,” he says.

That’s the approach House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence of Indiana takes.

“On that issue, I’m pretty distinctive that the president is from Hawaii,” he said. “I just don’t know where he’s coming from on health care.”

Such a response might satisfy many, or even most, but Taitz says that until Obama is removed from office, America’s other problems cannot be addressed. The fact that a few members of Congress have taken up her cause, with 10 Republicans signing onto Floria Republican Rep. Bill Posey’s legislation to amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, has only encouraged her to buckle down in the fight.

As Taitz sees it, Campbell, who represents her congressional district in Southern California, was moved to co-sponsor the “Birthers’ bill” for fear of people like her.

Campbell spokesperson Muffy Lewis flatly denied that being the case, saying the issue of Obama’s birth certificate is a low priority in the congressman’s district. Plus, Campbell has stressed that the bill would apply only to future candidates — and is really just about avoiding these kinds of controversies in the future.

“It really wasn’t as much about constituents as it was his own principles,” said Lewis. “He thought it was a common-sense bill. Castle had a major issue [in his district], but it hasn’t been much of an issue in ours.”

But Taitz said that lawmakers everywhere should be prepared to “resign or be removed” if they “do not have the guts to stand for the Constitution and this country.”

Asked whether Republican lawmakers should be “afraid” of the birthers, Taitz said: “I wouldn’t say the word ‘afraid.’ I think they should be willing to resign or be removed. That is what they should do. ... Resign if you do not have the guts to stand for the Constitution of this country.”

Taitz has made nine trips around the country to rally support for her cause. In March, she traveled to Washington to personally hand out packets of documents to senators in the Hart Senate Office Building. Additionally, she says she has sent documents by certified mail to each of the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, arguing that Obama is “totally illegitimate to be president.”

While the movement could be “politically threatening for particular Republicans,” Taitz says that the GOP as a whole has a chance to gain from it if it takes the right course of action.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0709/...l#ixzz0MTZcn8Vg

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Well, I'll only say this. When, as citizens of this country, we begin to shrug our shoulders to what the Constitution says simply because it would pose an inconvenience, or, not be politically expedient to pursue this issue because the President is well-liked, then we're headed down a slippery slope from which we may never recover. If such apathy develops, we might as well rip the Constitution to pieces and govern this nation by the seat of our pants. <_<

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Well, I'll only say this. When, as citizens of this country, we begin to shrug our shoulders to what the Constitution says simply because it would pose an inconvenience, or, not be politically expedient to pursue this issue because the President is well-liked, then we're headed down a slippery slope from which we may never recover. If such apathy develops, we might as well rip the Constitution to pieces and govern this nation by the seat of our pants. <_<

:lol:

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Well, I'll only say this. When, as citizens of this country, we begin to shrug our shoulders to what the Constitution says simply because it would pose an inconvenience, or, not be politically expedient to pursue this issue because the President is well-liked, then we're headed down a slippery slope from which we may never recover. If such apathy develops, we might as well rip the Constitution to pieces and govern this nation by the seat of our pants. <_<

1. that ship sailed with the PATRIOT Act..

2. who is "shrugging their shoulders" to Constitutional requirements? the question is whether there is any credible evidence supporting the claim that obama was born in kenya. obama presented a legal birth certificate. that certificate was authorized and verified by the republican governor of hawaii. newspapers in hawaii announced obama's birth.

so what evidence do the "birthers" have that all of this is a fraud? nothing but their paranoia.

i think what you are calling "apathy" is actually just a bunch of rational, logical people recognizing the "birthers" are a crazy little group of fringe nutjobs who have zero evidence to back up their wild conspiracy theory. that's not apathy, it's simply recognizing the kooks and loons for what they are.

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1. that ship sailed with the PATRIOT Act..

2. who is "shrugging their shoulders" to Constitutional requirements? the question is whether there is any credible evidence supporting the claim that obama was born in kenya. obama presented a legal birth certificate. that certificate was authorized and verified by the republican governor of hawaii. newspapers in hawaii announced obama's birth.

so what evidence do the "birthers" have that all of this is a fraud? nothing but their paranoia.

i think what you are calling "apathy" is actually just a bunch of rational, logical people recognizing the "birthers" are a crazy little group of fringe nutjobs who have zero evidence to back up their wild conspiracy theory. that's not apathy, it's simply recognizing the kooks and loons for what they are.

OMG and LOL @ your sig, dude. :lol::lol::lol:

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1. that ship sailed with the PATRIOT Act..

2. who is "shrugging their shoulders" to Constitutional requirements? the question is whether there is any credible evidence supporting the claim that obama was born in kenya. obama presented a legal birth certificate. that certificate was authorized and verified by the republican governor of hawaii. newspapers in hawaii announced obama's birth.

so what evidence do the "birthers" have that all of this is a fraud? nothing but their paranoia.

i think what you are calling "apathy" is actually just a bunch of rational, logical people recognizing the "birthers" are a crazy little group of fringe nutjobs who have zero evidence to back up their wild conspiracy theory. that's not apathy, it's simply recognizing the kooks and loons for what they are.

It funny birthers claim there is No evidence that Obama is a citizen, then when presented with the fact above, they simply claim again there is No evidence, while NEVER providing ANY evidence to support their side.

It's comical in ever sense of the word, these types of issues, like gay marriage, abortion, gun rights are strictly meant to distract and divide while the real issues this country needs to focus on get forgotten about in the media and then in the minds of the public.

I don't understand why most don't see issues like this for what they are. Distract and divide techniques that have been used for decades.

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It funny birthers claim there is No evidence that Obama is a citizen, then when presented with the fact above, they simply claim again there is No evidence, while NEVER providing ANY evidence to support their side.

It's comical in ever sense of the word, these types of issues, like gay marriage, abortion, gun rights are strictly meant to distract and divide while the real issues this country needs to focus on get forgotten about in the media and then in the minds of the public.

I don't understand why most don't see issues like this for what they are. Distract and divide techniques that have been used for decades.

Comical:

mike07262009.jpg

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Just because you suckers bow down to our alien overlord doesn't mean I will. I want proof he wasn't born on Omicron Persei 8!

Obama is just a Transformer like that girl in Transformers 2. Thats why everyone loves him. He uses brain control.

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It funny birthers claim there is No evidence that Obama is a citizen, then when presented with the fact above, they simply claim again there is No evidence, while NEVER providing ANY evidence to support their side.

It's comical in ever sense of the word, these types of issues, like gay marriage, abortion, gun rights are strictly meant to distract and divide while the real issues this country needs to focus on get forgotten about in the media and then in the minds of the public.

I don't understand why most don't see issues like this for what they are. Distract and divide techniques that have been used for decades.

Yep...next thing these idiots will demand is to see if he's circumcised.

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Personally I think Obama has proven he was born in the US, aka Hawaii, enough to satisfy the law and election officials. What more do they want??

I also hate his policies and wish everyone one of the "Birthers" would move on and unite to fight them, instead of being in a "conspiracy" group. I think he is going to bankrupt the country and destroy our quality of life, if he is left unchecked. People need to spend less time worrying about where he was born, and concentrate on where he is taking our country.

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Personally I think Obama has proven he was born in the US, aka Hawaii, enough to satisfy the law and election officials. What more do they want??

I also hate his policies and wish everyone one of the "Birthers" would move on and unite to fight them, instead of being in a "conspiracy" group. I think he is going to bankrupt the country and destroy our quality of life, if he is left unchecked. People need to spend less time worrying about where he was born, and concentrate on where he is taking our country.

I agree, they sound as dumb as the Left with their "We did 9/11" conspiracy

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I love the fact that the GOP has purged so many moderates that now the right wing nuts the birthers represent a significant faction in this party so you can't afford to offend them as a Republican politician. If Limbaugh and Hannnity say keep this going there is too much fear from those in power to say otherwise. I think this is why independents and blue dog Democrats will not want to associate themselves with some mainstream Republicans who they view as fools. When you as a party say trust no media then no matter what the proof you never have to believe anything there will always be an out. You always can say all media is a conspiracy unto itself.

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I love the fact that the GOP has purged so many moderates that now the right wing nuts the birthers represent a significant faction in this party so you can't afford to offend them as a Republican politician. If Limbaugh and Hannnity say keep this going there is too much fear from those in power to say otherwise. I think this is why independents and blue dog Democrats will not want to associate themselves with some mainstream Republicans who they view as fools. When you as a party say trust no media then no matter what the proof you never have to believe anything there will always be an out. You always can say all media is a conspiracy unto itself.

I don't think these folks represent "a significant faction of the party." That perception is borne of media coverage. It's a sensationalist story, so it's getting coverage (NOT saying it's a left wing media conspiracy, but I AM saying that the fact that it's in the news gives it more credence than it would otherwise have).

I do think these folks are doing their party a disservice. But I don't think they're the mainstream of the party, or even a significant movement within the party, any more than I thought Cindy Sheehan and the 9/11 conspiracy theorists were a significant part of the Democrat party under GWB.

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No doubt this won't be proof it was in USA Today so you won't have to believe it is real.

Hawaii: Obama birth certificate is real

Updated 8h 8m ago | Comments 502 | Recommend 18 E-mail | Save | Print | Subscribe to stories like this

CNN's Lou Dobbs reported that Hawaii officials had destroyed President Obama's original 1961 birth certificate without citing a source.

Enlarge image Enlarge By Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images

CNN's Lou Dobbs reported that Hawaii officials had destroyed President Obama's original 1961 birth certificate without citing a source.

By Dan Nakaso, The Honolulu Advertiser

In an attempt to quash persistent rumors that President Obama was not born in Honolulu on Aug. 4, 1961, Hawaii's health director reiterated this afternoon that she has personally seen Obama's birth certificate in the Health Department's archives.

"I, Dr. Chiyome Fukino, director of the Hawaii State Department of Health, have seen the original vital records maintained on file by the Hawai'i State Department of Health verifying Barrack Hussein Obama was born in Hawaii and is a natural-born American citizen. I have nothing further to add to this statement or my original statement issued in October 2008 over eight months ago...."

On Oct. 31, Fukino originally tried to put an end to the belief among so-called "birthers" that Obama was not born in the United States and thus was ineligible to run for the office of president.

Despite Fukino's statement today, the issue continued to resonate from Capitol Hill to the national airwaves to the blogosphere.

CNN's Lou Dobbs reported that Hawaii officials had destroyed Obama's original 1961 birth certificate without citing a source.

FIND MORE STORIES IN: Barack Obama | Linda Lingle | Lou Dobbs | Neil Abercrombie | Michele Bachmann | United States presidential election, 2008

A congressional resolution introduced by Hawaii Rep. Neil Abercrombie commemorating the 50th anniversary of Island statehood was postponed today apparently because of a "whereas" clause noting Obama's Hawaii birthplace. The line "Whereas the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, was born in Hawaii on August 4, 1961;" has been construed by some who believe Obama is not a U.S.-born citizen as a thinly veiled attempt to get Congress to affirm Obama's U.S. Citizenship," Abercrombie spokesman Dave Helfert said.

So-called "birthers" denounce the notion that Obama was born in Kapiolani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital in Honolulu on Aug. 4, 1961, despite court rulings and statements by Fukino and Hawaii's Republican governor, Linda Lingle.

Abercrombie's office had already issued a statement today announcing the House's unanimous approval of Abercrombie's resolution when Minnesota Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann rose today to object to the vote, saying there was not a quorum present.

Before Bachman's objection, Abercrombie spokesman Helfert had said some birthers believe the resolution "means the House of Representatives is on the record that Hawaii is the birthplace of the president of the United States."

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Hawaii again declares Obama birth certificate real

AP

By JAYMES SONG, Associated Press Writer Jaymes Song, Associated Press Writer – Tue Jul 28, 1:54 am ET

HONOLULU – State officials in Hawaii on Monday said they have once again checked and confirmed that President Barack Obama was born in Hawaii and is a natural-born American citizen, and therefore meets a key constitutional requirement for being president.

They hoped to stem a recent surge in the number of inquiries about Obama's birthplace.

"I ... have seen the original vital records maintained on file by the Hawaii State Department of Health verifying Barack Hussein Obama was born in Hawaii and is a natural-born American citizen," Health Director Dr. Chiyome Fukino said in a brief statement. "I have nothing further to add to this statement or my original statement issued in October 2008 over eight months ago."

So-called "birthers" — who claim Obama is ineligible to be president because, they argue, he was actually born outside the United States — have grown more vocal recently on blogs and television news shows.

Fukino issued a similar press release Oct. 31, but was prompted to speak out again because of the renewed attention on Obama's beginnings. Hawaii's Health Department has been flooded in recent weeks with questions from individuals and several national TV news networks asking for proof that Obama was indeed born in Hawaii.

"They just keep asking over and over and over again," Health Department spokeswoman Janice Okubo said.

The Constitution states that a person must be a "natural-born citizen" to be eligible for the presidency. Birthers contend that Obama's birth certificate is a fake, and many say he was actually born in Kenya, his father's homeland. They've challenged his citizenship in court.

One widely circulated YouTube clip of a town hall meeting showed a Republican congressman getting booed for saying Obama is a citizen. Talk show host Rush Limbaugh and CNN's Lou Dobbs have also raised the issue, and 10 Republican members of Congress co-sponsored a bill that would require future presidential candidates to provide a copy of their original birth certificate.

However, it appears Congress has moved on and has accepted Obama's island birthplace. The U.S. House on Monday unanimously approved a resolution recognizing and celebrating the 50th anniversary of Hawaii becoming the 50th state. A clause was included that reads: "Whereas the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, was born in Hawaii on August 4, 1961."

State law bars the release of a certified birth certificate to anyone who does not have a tangible interest.

However, Obama's birth certificate along with birth notices from the two Honolulu newspapers were brought forward even before he took office. But that's done nothing to shake the belief by many Obama critics that the president was born abroad.

Wingnuts -- "but show me the proof....."

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alright i got a question for the birthers. If he was born in kenya, like yall say, then shouldnt the mother's passport or airplane records show she was in kenya? The mother is the one that gave birth to him, so she would have to be in kenya at the same time.

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