By Sam Youngman - 04/27/11 02:21 PM EDT
President Obama said Wednesday that he released his long-form birth certificate to end the distraction and return the debate in Washington to fiscal matters.
Obama, appearing in the White House briefing room shortly after senior administration officials distributed the document to reporters, blasted the “sideshows and carnival barkers” who have pushed the birther conspiracy instead of focusing on important issues.
“We do not have time for this kind of silliness,” Obama said. “We've got better things to do. I've got better things to do.”
Obama did not mention businessman and television personality Donald Trump by name, but his comment about “carnival barkers” seemed directed at the real estate developer, who has jumped to the top of presidential preference polls among GOP voters largely by raising his doubts about where Obama was born.
“I have watched with bemusement,” Obama said. “I've been puzzled by the degree to which this has just kept going.”
Obama spoke after the administration posted Obama’s long-form birth certificate on the White House website.
In a blog post, the White House said the debate over whether Obama was born in the U.S. and is eligible to serve in the Oval Office was a “sideshow” and was also distracting from important issues.
“The president believed the distraction over his birth certificate wasn’t good for the country. 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,” the White House said in a blog post written by communications director Dan Pfeiffer.
Pfeiffer wrote that it “probably would've been in [Obama's] long-term political interest to let the birther debate continue in Republican debates for months to come,” but that it would not have been good for the country.
Trump took credit for the White House’s decision, but also suggested it could put to rest questions about where the president was born.
“Today I am very proud of myself, because I've accomplished something that nobody else was able to accomplish,” Trump said during an appearance in the key GOP primary state of New Hampshire.
Trump said he hoped the release of the certificate would put to rest questions about the president's birthplace, but expressed some lingering skepticism of the document's veracity, saying he wants to examine it.
“I hope that it's true so we can get on to much more important matters. So the press can stop asking me questions,” he said. “I am really honored to have played such a big role in hopefully getting rid of this issue.”
Mainstream politicians in both parties have said questions about whether Obama was born in the U.S. are not credible, yet polls show that large numbers of voters, particularly Republicans, do not believe Obama was born in the U.S. A poll by The New York Times and CBS released last week showed 45 percent of Republican adults do not believe Obama was born in the U.S.
The long-form birth certificate released Wednesday shows Obama was born in Honolulu.
The White House said Obama last week directed his personal counsel to request a special release of two copies of the original long-form document, an unusual request that goes against the policies of the Hawaii state department of health.
Loretta Fuddy, director of health for Hawaii, wrote to Obama that “in recognition of your status as president of the United States, I am making an exception to current departmental policy, which is to use a computer-generated certified copy.”
The original document is still on file in Hawaii. Obama’s personal lawyer flew to Hawaii this week and returned to the White House with the certified copies Tuesday night.
Pfeiffer said that the issue had been put to rest in 2008 when Obama posted his birth certificate online. The copy Obama posted at that time is what the state of Hawaii recognizes as a legal birth certificate.
“Birther” theorists, however, have long held that Obama had something to hide because he would not release his long-form document.
With the ascension of Trump as a potential Republican presidential candidate, those theories had gained new ground. White House officials said the president felt compelled to address the issue after it had gone from “the nether regions of the Internet to mainstream political” debate.
Here's the full blog post from the White House:
In 2008, in response to media inquiries, the President’s campaign requested his birth certificate from the state of Hawaii. The state sent the campaign the President’s birth certificate, the same legal documentation provided to all Hawaiians as proof of birth in state, and the campaign immediately posted it on the internet. That birth certificate can be seen here.
When any citizen born in Hawaii requests their birth certificate, they receive exactly what the President received. In fact, the document posted on the campaign website is what Hawaiians use to get a driver’s license from the state and the document recognized by the Federal Government and the courts for all legal purposes. That’s because it is the birth certificate. This is not and should not be an open question.
The President believed the distraction over his birth certificate wasn’t good for the country. 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. Therefore, the President directed his counsel to review the legal authority for seeking access to the long form certificate and to request on that basis that the Hawaii State Department of Health make an exception to release a copy of his long form birth certificate. They granted that exception in part because of the tremendous volume of requests they had been getting. President Barack Obama's long form birth certificate can be seen here:
This story was updated at 10:21 a.m.