President Barack Obama has released copies of his original birth certificate, hoping to end a controversy over his place of birth and his qualification to be president. The president says the so-called "birther" controversy has distracted the country from serious issues.
White House officials are distributing copies of an original birth certificate which shows that President Obama was born in the United States.
The president spoke to reporters Wednesday and compared the controversy to a carnival, at what he called a serious time.
"We are not going to be able to solve our problems if we get distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers," Obama said.
He said the furor was distracting attention from the problems affecting Americans, such as lingering unemployment and high gasoline prices.
"We do not have time for this kind of silliness," Obama added. "We've got better stuff to do. I have got better stuff to do. We have got big problems to solve, and I am confident that we can solve them. But we have got to focus on them, not on this."
The U.S. Constitution requires that the president must have been a U.S. citizen at birth.
But some of Mr. Obama's political opponents, nicknamed "birthers," have questioned whether he has adequately proven his native birth and his qualification to be president. Some have alleged that he was born in Kenya, his father's home country. They said their suspicions were based on the president's failure to supply his original birth certificate.
In 2008, the Obama campaign released an official state of Hawaii document, called a "certification of birth." That document, produced at a later date, provides information about Mr. Obama's parents and time and place of birth.
The U.S. government accepts the certification as proof of birth, and the president said that should have put the matter to rest.
"We have had every official in Hawaii, Democrat and Republican, every news outlet that has investigated this, confirm that, yes, in fact, I was born in Hawaii, August 4, 1961, in Kapiolani Hospital," added Obama.
But the controversy continued, with 45 percent of Republicans questioned in a recent CBS/New York Times poll saying they believe Mr. Obama was not born in the United States.
So the president asked the state of Hawaii to waive its usual policy and allow copies of the original birth certificate to be made public.
Real estate mogul and television personality Donald Trump, a possible Republican presidential contender in 2012, has repeatedly questioned the circumstances of the president's birth.
On Wednesday Trump took credit for forcing the release of the original birth certificate, and said he hopes it settles the matter.
"I would want to look at it, but I hope it is true, so that we can get on to much more important matters, so the press can stop asking me questions. He should have done it a long time ago," said Trump.
White House officials are hoping that this announcement will allow them to move on to more serious topics, such as Thursday's expected announcement that CIA Director Leon Panetta will replace Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense.
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