CNN’s Peter Hamby observed recently that false conspiracy theories surrounding President Barack Obama’s birth certificate are “creeping more and more” into the mainstream of the Republican Party. Hamby cited several recent statements by Republican elected officials as well as the Mitt Romney campaign’s closeness with Donald Trump—who became one of the leading advocates for the birthers last year—and others perpetuating the false conspiracy theories. Hamby wrote:
Dark theories about President Barack Obama’s citizenship show no signs of fading away.
But ‘birthers,’ as those skeptics of Obama’s heritage are known, no longer seem relegated to tinfoil hat fringes of American politics.
Instead, it’s Republican members of Congress, elected officials and state party organizations—in Arizona, Iowa and Florida—that are responsible for the latest round of conspiracy-mongering….
The issue flared this week in Iowa ... where the state GOP wrote a passage into its proposed party platform calling on presidential candidates to ‘show proof of being a natural-born citizen,’ beginning with the 2012 election.
Don Racheter, chairman of the Iowa Republican Party’s platform committee, told Radio Iowa that the language was intentionally crafted as a ‘shot’ at Obama….
[B]irtherism is creeping more and more into the domain of GOP officialdom.
Fresh examples appear on a near-weekly basis, often in key battleground states…
Republican members of Congress in swing states such as Florida (Rep. Cliff Stearns), Colorado (Rep. Mike Coffman) and Missouri (Rep. Vicky Hartzler) have publicly raised questions about Obama’s citizenship in recent weeks.
In North Carolina, the state GOP convention will be headlined next week by Donald Trump, whose 2011 crusade to unearth details about Obama’s origins drew global attention and prompted the White House to release the president’s long-form birth certificate.
The Romney campaign has since leveraged Trump as a campaign surrogate and fund-raiser.
Also in North Carolina, a state both campaigns are aggressively targeting, The Charlotte Observer recently retracted its endorsement of a Republican congressional candidate after he said he was ‘suspicious’ of Obama’s birth certificate.
In Arizona ... Secretary of State Ken Bennett said last week that he may refuse to put the president on the ballot in November unless the state of Hawaii authenticates Obama’s birth certificate.
Bennett, a co-chairman of Romney’s Arizona campaign, said he was only doing so at the request of his constituents.
Click here to read Hamby’s full piece.
** UPDATE **
Trump will be hosting a fundraiser for Romney in Las Vegas next week. Politico reported on a recent interview in which Trump doubled down on the birther rhetoric:
[E]mbracing Trump is a risky decision for anyone, as this interview he gave to Lloyd Grove demonstrates:
“A book publisher came out three days ago and said that in his written synopsis of his book,” Trump went on, “he said he was born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia. His mother never spent a day in the hospital.”...
An agency assistant back then, Miriam Goderich, said last week that she was mistaken when she wrote that Obama was born in Kenya.
But Trump isn’t buying it.
“That’s what he told the literary agent,” Trump insisted. “That’s the way life works… He didn’t know he was running for president, so he told the truth. The literary agent wrote down what he said… He said he was born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia... Now they’re saying it was a mistake. Just like his Kenyan grandmother said he was born in Kenya, and she pointed down the road to the hospital, and after people started screaming at her she said, ‘Oh, I mean Hawaii.’ Give me a break.”
Emphasis added. The idea that the president is not a U.S. citizen—and therefore not eligible to be president—has proven incredibly resilient on the margins of politics. But it’s also a debunked, fringe view, and not the kind of thing mainstream candidates typically associate themselves with.