White House releases full Obama birth certificate

President Obama expressed puzzlement yesterday that some people continue to believe he is not a US citizen. President Obama expressed puzzlement yesterday that some people continue to believe he is not a US citizen. (Jewel Samad/ AFP/ Getty Images)
By Karen Tumulty and Perry Bacon Jr.
Washington Post / April 28, 2011

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WASHINGTON — In a gesture acknowledging the distracting effect that a false but persistent rumor has had on the Obama presidency, the White House yesterday released the long-form version of Barack Obama’s birth certificate, which showed that he was born in Honolulu.

In a White House appearance, a smiling Obama expressed puzzlement that some people continue to believe he is not a US citizen, a rumor he said has been fueled by “sideshows and carnival barkers.’’

Citing economic challenges facing the nation, Obama added, “We do not have time for this silliness. We’ve got better stuff to do. I’ve got better stuff to do. We’ve got big problems to solve.’’

The belief that Obama was born in another country, which the most recent CBS/New York Times poll suggests is embraced by about a quarter of Americans, has been used by some conservative critics of the president as a means to question his constitutional legitimacy to occupy the White House — and even his basic American-ness.

“The president believed the distraction over his birth certificate wasn’t good for the country,’’ White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer wrote on the White House website. “It may have been good politics and good TV, but it was bad for the American people and distracting from the many challenges we face as a country.’’

Most recently, it has been raised in television appearances by showman and business executive Donald Trump, who is flirting with the prospect of running for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination. As recently as Tuesday, Trump — who claimed to have a team of investigators looking into the issue in Hawaii — said he had heard that the certificate was missing.

“I am really honored, frankly, to have played such a big role in hopefully — hopefully — getting rid of this issue,’’ Trump said of the news that Obama had released the certificate.

During the 2008 campaign, Obama had posted on the Internet a shorter “certification of live birth,’’ which Pfeiffer noted was the same one that Hawaiians use to get a driver’s license and the one recognized by the federal government and the courts.

The campaign also set up a website to address the “birther’’ controversy, as well as other rumors that had dogged Obama.

However, the rumor persisted — and, Obama acknowledged during his appearance yesterday, probably will still persist, despite the release of the long-form birth certificate.

The timing is in some ways surprising — though also telling of what drives the political culture these days. It came on a day when the top story might otherwise have been news of changes in the administration’s national security team.

And even as Trump had vaulted up in some polls of the Republican 2012 field in part by making claims that Obama was not born in the United States, a series of major Republican figures, including Karl Rove, the top political strategist for President George W. Bush, and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, considered a leading contender for the 2012 GOP nomination, had publicly urged members of the party to move on from the “birther’’ issue. top stories on Twitter

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