President Obama on Thursday lightened up talk of high gas prices and the budget deficit on his West Coast swing with a joke about those who question his citizenship.

"A lot of you got involved when the prospect of electing Barack Hussein Obama to the Oval Office was slim. None of you asked for my birth certificate. It was a complete leap of faith," Obama said during a Los Angeles dinner fundraiser, drawing laughs from the crowd of his supporters.


The president appears poised to use the so-called "birther" issue to his advantage.

Billionaire businessman Donald Trump, who is flirting with running for president as a Republican, has helped revive birther claims in recent weeks as he has repeatedly raised questions about Obama's place of birth.

But Obama, whose campaign released a copy of his birth certificate in 2008 to prove he was born in Hawaii, wants to convince the public that Republicans are using it to attack him politically.

"[It creates] think a problem for them when they want to actually run in a general election where most people feel pretty confident the president was born where he says he was, in Hawaii," Obama said of some Republicans during an interview with ABC News last week. "He — he doesn’t have horns … we’re not really worrying about conspiracy theories or — or birth certificates."

The issue appears to have some traction with Republicans: a 45 percent plurality of them believe he was born outside the U.S., according to a poll released this week.