Bachmann on Obama's birthplace: 'That isn't for me to state'

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) said Thursday it's not for her to say whether President Obama is a citizen of the United States — or a Christian.

"That isn't for me to state; that's for the president to state," Bachmann, the leading Tea Party lawmaker in the House, said on "Good Morning America" on ABC. "When the president makes his statements, I think they should stand for their own."

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At issue is the lingering belief, among so-called birthers, that Obama was born outside the U.S., which would make him constitutionally ineligible to serve as president. (The state of Hawaii has produced a birth certificate showing Obama was born there.) Some also mistakenly believe that Obama practices Islam, rather than the Christian faith he routinely claims.

"We should take the president at his word," Bachmann said.

Still, her wording mirrors what some other Republicans have said about the president, which critics complain is worded in such a way as to allow the birther argument to stand in the GOP.

"It's not my job to tell the American people what to think," House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said of the debate this past weekend. "The state of Hawaii has said he was born there. That's good enough for me … The president says he's a Christian. I accept him at his word."

The careful wording by Republican leaders reflects some of the political realities of the party's base. A poll this week showed that a majority of likely presidential primary voters do not believe that Obama was born in the U.S., for instance.

Bachmann is one of those GOP candidates considering a run for president, having made or scheduled several trips now to Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina — early primary states. Of running in 2012, though, Bachmann said Thursday, "I'm not there yet." 

By contrast, other possible Republican presidential candidates, like former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, have been willing to take on birthers a bit more publicly.

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