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Obama releases birth document, decries silliness

WASHINGTON (AP) ― President Barack Obama has produced his detailed birth certificate from Hawaii, hoping to clamp off a resurrection of claims he was born outside the United States and declaring the country did not have the “time for this kind of silliness.”

The timing of Obama’s nationally televised statement and release of the document coincided with persistent charges from potential Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump that the president had not proved he was born in the United States. The U.S. Constitution requires the president not be foreign-born.
Ivalee Sinclair holds the birth certificate of President Barack Obama on Wednesday in Honolulu. (AP-Yonhap News)
Ivalee Sinclair holds the birth certificate of President Barack Obama on Wednesday in Honolulu. (AP-Yonhap News)

With the 2012 presidential election 18 months away and Republicans and Democrats preparing for political battle over how to reduce the U.S. debt, Obama said he did not want the country further distracted from those issues by continued public questions about where he was born.

“I’ve got better stuff to do. We’ve got big problems to solve. And I’m confident we can solve them, but we’re going to have to focus on them ― not on this,” Obama said in a statement in the White House press room.

Trump, meanwhile, spoke to reporters after stepping off a helicopter in a campaign-style stop in New Hampshire and congratulated himself as the only American to force Obama to release the so-called long-form birth certificate.

“He should have done it a long time ago. I am really honored to play such a big role in hopefully, hopefully getting rid of this issue,” Trump said.

Polls show large numbers of Republicans have continued to doubt Obama is a natural-born citizen and therefore eligible to be president. Trump, a bombastic real estate mogul, had seized on the issue as he considers a Republican candidacy.

While Obama and White House officials avoided mentioning Trump by name, they said they released the birth certificate partially because the issue had moved beyond fringe discussion. Obama criticized a media culture that had not let the story go.

Recalling his speech two weeks ago that outlined his plan for reducing America’s fast-expanding debt, Obama said that “during that entire week the dominant news story wasn’t about these huge, monumental choices that we’re going to have to make as a nation. It was about my birth certificate. And that was true on most of the news outlets that were represented here.”

Obama made public the shorter form of the state of Hawaii document before he was elected in 2008, proving his birthplace and constitutional eligibility to be president. But Trump gave new life to the issue when he joined Obama opponents who created the issue and said he had investigators in Hawaii digging out the circumstances surrounding Obama’s birth certificate.

White House counsel Bob Bower told reporters “the decision was made” early last week to look into asking Hawaii to waive its prohibition on releasing copies of the long-form document. The request was made in a letter Obama signed on Friday. Obama’s personal lawyer, Judy Corley, flew to Hawaii to pick up certified copies of the document and returned with them Tuesday afternoon.

The president’s frustrations over the “birther” issue showed in his Wednesday remarks.

“We’re not going to be able to solve our problems if we get distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers,” Obama said.

Many Republican officials have sought to distance themselves from the “birther” theory as a discredited notion not worthy of national public debate.

But in a statement after Obama spoke, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, while acknowledging the issue was a distraction, blamed Obama for playing campaign politics by addressing it. In his statement, Republicans escaped fault, even though the falsehoods about Obama’s birth have come from the far right.

“The president ought to spend his time getting serious about repairing our economy,” Priebus said. “Unfortunately his campaign politics and talk about birth certificates is distracting him from our number one priority ― our economy.”

The newly released certificate is signed by the delivery doctor, Obama’s mother and the local registrar. His mother, then 18, signed her name (Stanley) Ann Dunham Obama.

There’s no mention of religion. Polls show many Republicans wrongly believe Obama is Muslim.

The certificate says his father Barack Hussein Obama, age 25, was African and born in Kenya, and his mother was Caucasian and born in Wichita, Kansas. Obama’s mother and the doctor signed the certificate on Aug. 7 and 8.

Hawaii’s registrar certified the new photocopy of the document provided to the White House on April 25, 2011.

The White House also released a letter from the president on April 22 requesting two certified copies of his original certificate of live birth, as well as a letter from Loretta Fuddy, Hawaii’s director of health, approving the request.
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