Return of the Birthers

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  • More than a year after President Barack Obama released his long-form birth certificate that proves he’s a U.S. citizen and therefore qualified to be president of the United States, some Republicans still can’t let it go.

    A bevy of GOP congressional candidates in North Carolina are going birther, repeating some of the same old suspicions that the nation’s first black president, whose father was Kenyan and white mother a Kansan, was either born in Africa or Indonesia but certainly not in the U.S. of A.

    And the birther talk is not-so-coincidentally going on in a state the Obama barely won in 2008 and looks to be a fight to retain in his 2012 re-election bid.

    Richard Hudson, the top Republican candidate in the race to defeat incumbent Democratic Rep. Larry Kissel, told a state Tea Party group recently that “there’s no question President Obama is hiding something on his citizenship,” according to The Charlotte Observer.

    Dr. John Whitely, who’s opposing Hudson in the Republican primary, called Obama’s birth certificate a “poorly reproduced forgery” after he compared it to the Hawaiian birth certificate on one of his campaign workers, The Observer reported.

    Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jim Pendergraph, a Republican seeking a seat in the House of Representatives from North Carolina’s 9th District, said he thinks Obama wasn’t born in the United States.

    “I have reason to be suspicious,” he told The Observer last week. “But I don’t know. I haven’t seen the facts. I think there’s a lot of smoke and generally, when there’s smoke, there’s got to be fire somewhere.”

    Richard Lynch, who is running against Pendergraph, told The Observer, “While I want to believe that Mr. Obama is a natural-born citizen, I must admit that the evidence leaves me with doubt.”

    But Pendergraph appears to be the birther king among the Tar Heel state’s Republican congressional field. Looking for a boost in the polls, he brought in controversial Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio for a campaign event.

    Arpaio, whose racial profiling of Hispanics and immigration patrols based on racially-charged complaints by citizens has drawn the ire of the Justice Department, has conducted his own investigation into Obama and concluded that the president’s birth certificate may be forged.

    Arpaio’s appearance was the last straw for The Observer. The paper’s editorial board, which lauded Pendergraph last week as a “conservative” and “pragmatic,” withdrew its endorsement of him.

    “After winning the Observer’s endorsement in his bid for Congress, he has done nothing but embarrass us and himself,” the editorial board wrote in a scathing piece. “By buddying up to one of America’s more hateful egomaniacs and then joining with fringe “birthers” to question President Obama’s citizenship, Pendergraph has contradicted much of what he told the Observer’s editorial board in his endorsement interview last month.”

    The editorial board wrote that “we have lost faith” in Pendergraph and urged voters to consider two other Republicans in the 9th District race.

    The editorial board went on to call Arpaio, “a Melvillian character on a never-ending crusade against Latinos,” an irremovable stain spilled onto Pendergraph.

    “It all gives one the sense that Pendergraph will say whatever a given audience wants to hear, if it will help him get elected. That makes how he would act in Congress a mystery,” the editorial board wrote.

    White House officials had hoped that the Obama citizenship canard had been put to rest when the president released his long-form birth certificate last spring when real estate mogul and reality TV show host Donald Trump tried to make it an issue as he was considering running for president.

    The certificate shows that Barack Hussein Obama was born at 7:24 p.m. on August 4, 1961 at Kapiolani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital in Honolulu. The next day, Hawaii’s major newspapers listed Obama among the births at the hospital.

    Days after releasing his birth certificate, Obama unleashed a torrent of birther jokes at the White House Correspondents Dinner aimed at Trump, who was in attendance. Trump left the event in a huff. But the birther issue obviously hasn’t gone away.

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