President Barack Obama sought to put to rest a political issue Wednesday that has dogged him since before he was elected to the White House in 2008. Mr. Obama released his original birth certificate from the state of Hawaii in hope of quieting critics and those who doubt he was really born in the United States.
President Barack Obama took the unusual step of making a statement in the White House press briefing room to announce the release of the original birth certificate from Hawaii, where he was born on August 4th, 1961.
The U.S. Constitution requires the president to be, "a natural-born Citizen of the United States." But for more than two years, a small group of Obama critics has tried to raise doubts that he is qualified, claiming he was born in Kenya, the home country of his father.
Mr. Obama said he hoped the release of the official long-form birth certificate would put any questions about his place of birth to rest and would allow the country to focus on more pressing national issues like the economy and reducing the budget deficit. "We are not going to be able to do it if we just make stuff up and pretend that facts are not facts. We are not going to be able to solve our problems if we get distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers," he said.
The president mentioned no one by name, but that last reference was taken by many analysts as a jab at New York real-estate developer Donald Trump, who is considering a run for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination next year.
Trump has seized on the so-called ‘birther’ issue in recent weeks and that has helped him climb to the top of the polls among likely Republican presidential contenders.
Trump was in New Hampshire when the White House released the president’s birth certificate and he quickly tried to turn the news to his advantage when he met with reporters. "Today I am very proud of myself because I have accomplished something that nobody else has been able to accomplish. I would want to look at it, but I hope it is true so that we can get on to much more important matters," he said.
In addition to New Hampshire, Trump is planning to visit other states that hold early presidential contests including Nevada and Iowa.
Some Republicans have criticized Trump’s focus on the birth certificate issue in recent weeks and it is unclear how the latest revelations from the White House will affect Trump’s decision on whether or not to run, which he says he will make by June.
Analysts say it is possible that Republican voters were somewhat interested in Trump because no other compelling potential candidates have emerged in the slow-to-develop Republican presidential field.
Washington-based political analyst Rhodes Cook says unlike previous election cycles, this year’s Republican race lacks a clear frontrunner who is a favorite to capture the party’s nomination. "You had these people who were positioned as frontrunners, you know, at the beginning of the Republican race and who kind of defined the Republican race. This time you do not have that," he said.
Former Republican Congressman Mickey Edwards of Oklahoma says Republicans are also looking for candidates who can appeal to conservative Tea Party activists who were instrumental in Republican victories in last year’s congressional elections. "Nobody is really emerging. Nobody quite knows what the Tea Party effect is going to be on the primaries, what position you have to take in order to be a player. I do not think Donald Trump should be taken seriously, but he does," he said.
Trump got more potentially bad news in a Washington Post story Wednesday that reported he has given more money to Democratic candidates over the years than to Republicans, something that may not sit well with Republican voters in next year’s primary and caucus contests.