A vocal group of conspiracy theorists known as “birthers” are riling the White House with their persistent claim that Barack Obama is not an American citizen and therefore ineligible to be president.
The claim that the United States’ first African-American president was born in Kenya, not Hawaii, first emerged during his presidential campaign, but it has garnered more media attention in the summer “silly season,” a traditionally slow news period when many Americans are on vacation.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs looked exasperated at his briefing yesterday when a reporter asked him, “Is there anything you can say that will make the birthers go away?”
“If I had some DNA, it wouldn’t assuage those that don’t believe he was born here,” Gibbs replied. “But I have news for them and for all of us: The president was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, the 50th state of the greatest country on the face of the earth. He’s a citizen.
“A year-and-a-half ago I asked that the birth certificate be put on the Internet because Lord knows, you got a birth certificate and you put it on the Internet, what else could be the story?”
The digitally scanned copy of the “certification of live birth” from Hawaii’s Department of Health shows President Obama was born in Honolulu at 7:24 pm on August 4, 1961.
The nonpartisan FactCheck.org, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Centre of the University of Pennsylvania, examined, handled and photographed the original certificate in an effort to put the controversy to rest.
“We conclude that it meets all of the requirements from the State Department for proving US citizenship. Our conclusion: Obama was born in the USA, just as he has always said.”
FactCheck.org also pointed out that Mr Obama’s American mother and Kenyan father placed an advertisement in a local Honolulu newspaper on August 13, 1961, announcing their son’s birth.
Despite the seemingly incontrovertible evidence, the issue shows no sign of disappearing off the radar of right-wing radio talkshow hosts and others who say the birth certificate is a forgery to hide the fact that Mr Obama is foreign-born.
Republican Congressman Mike Castle was booed at a town hall meeting after he insisted Obama, a Democrat, was an American citizen.
Video of the meeting went viral and has been viewed nearly 700,000 times on YouTube.
Meanwhile, in Hawaii, state officials yesterday said they have once again checked and confirmed that President Obama was born in Hawaii and is a natural-born American citizen, and therefore meets a key constitutional requirement for being president.
“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.” (Reuters)