American’s love a good conspiracy, even when there is virtually no evidence to support the theory. The on-going “birther” debate regarding President Barack Obama’s birth place continues three years later but some suggest it is not President Obama’s re-election that it threatens to derail. Many political observers suggest that by continuing to pander to the far right on this issue, the GOP risk alienating independent voters in their goal to defeat President Obama, even if they question his birth place as well.
Ironically when the discussion began during the 2008 Presidential campaign, it was not centered on then Senator Barack Obama. The scrutiny was on Senator John McCain, the GOP nominee from Arizona. He was born in Panama where his father served in the military. The Internet was rampant with speculation that Sen. McCain was not eligible to serve because the Constitution requires the President of the United States be a natural born citizen. However, because Sen. McCain was born at a U.S. military hospital by American parents, this speculation was ill-founded.
During the debate regarding Sen. McCain’s status Sen. Obama’s campaign staff released a redacted copy of his birth certificate. The Certification of Live Birth issued by the State of Hawaii’s Department of Health indicates Barack Hussein Obama was born on August 4, 1961 to Ann Dunham Stanley (American) and Barack Hussein Obama (African) at 7:24 p.m. in Honolulu, Hawaii. Someone on the Senator’s staff blacked out the Certificate No. because of privacy concerns. The concern was someone could use the information to find out the Senator’s Social Security Number and use it for improper purposes.
The staff’s decision seemed logical given problems with identity theft and the high stakes of the election, but what has ensured nearly three years later is far from logical.
As the 2012 election looms, GOP candidates for president are often asked their views on President Obama’s eligibility to serve due to his place of birth. For some supporters of the Tea Party, this issue is seen as a litmus test. In the headlines, these supporters are very vocal and their concerns receive a great of attention. However, the general GOP supporter is not as concerned about these issues.
Traditional GOP leaders are very nervous about picking sides in this battle. They do not want to alienate a very passionate segment of the party. But, they recognize this can backfire in a general election. Recent polls suggest at least twenty percent of voters question if President Obama was born in Hawaii. However, with economic pressures and rising gas prices they do not consider this a priority.
Perhaps in an effort to begin to cool the debate, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed a measure that would have required any presidential candidate to provide proof of citizenship. These measures have been considered in at least twelve states. Gov. Brewer’s decision was surprising to many observers as her position on cracking down on illegal immigrants last year made her very popular. In her explanation of the veto, she declared the bill “a bridge too far.”
Privately many GOP seeking to defeat President Obama in 2012 are hopeful this is the beginning of closing this issue.