Row grows over Obama's birth certificate

The right-wing 'birthers', convinced the President was not born in the US and is therefore ineligible to govern, are gaining strength

Los Angeles

Forget about "Change we can believe in", "Yes, America can" and other heart-warming slogans of your average presidential election. The catchphrase being shouted loudest in the early skirmishes of the 2012 race consists of four angry words: "Where's the birth certificate?"

The single most debated issue among Republicans seeking to select their next candidate is not the economy, healthcare or the three wars that the nation is currently fighting. Instead, they are noisily debating the question of whether Barack Obama was actually born in Hawaii. This even though the President's name appears on government birth records for that state.

"Birthers", or people who believe the President was not born in the US, making him constitutionally ineligible to govern, nonetheless have in a few short years emerged from the fringes of far-right politics into the limelight of the mainstream. Today, they represent roughly 50 per cent of registered Republican supporters, according to several recent polls, and about a quarter of the entire US population. The suspicion for many is that Obama may have been born in Kenya, his father's country, or Indonesia, where he spent some childhood years.

Yesterday, the Associated Press reported that only an AP journalist and one other person has tried to access Obama's birth records this month. The only publicly available documents in the Department of Health building show a listing for a boy named Barack Hussein Obama II, born in Hawaii in 1961.

The full certificate, or so called "long form certificate", is locked away by privacy laws. But Dr Chiyome Fukino, the former health director, confirmed its existence. Even so, the birthers are marching towards the mainstream and last week a book entitled Where's the Birth Certificate? was briefly propelled to number one on Amazon's US sales chart. It won't even be released until the middle of May, but, last night, it was holding steady at number two. Its author, Jerome Corsi, claims the book will reveal how crucial details about the President's birth cannot be verified because of "missing records" in Hawaii, Kenya and Indonesia. "It's utterly devastating," he said. "Obama may learn things he didn't even know about himself."

Intrigue surrounding the issue threatens to have a huge knock-on effect on the coming primary season. A poll released last week revealed only 26 per cent of Republican supporters in Iowa, one of the first and therefore most strategically important states to select presidential candidates, now believe that Barack Obama is a natural-born citizen. Cashing in on their appetite for scepticism is the property tycoon Donald Trump (left). After declaring himself interested in exploring a presidential bid several weeks ago, he toured news studios announcing his conversion to the "birther" cause. Within days, he was second favourite to win the Republican nomination.

The President has always claimed to have been born in Hawaii in 1961, when his mother was studying in Honolulu. His birth was announced in two local newspapers, copies of which exist on microfilm. A certificate of live birth, from the hospital at which he was born, was released by his campaign office in 2008.

That holds little weight with "birthers", however. They insist that only a full-form version of the President's birth certificate will prove him to be a "real" American. For reasons that President Obama has yet to elaborate upon, such a document has not entered the public domain.

Some Democrats now wonder if Mr Obama is deliberately withholding the certificate so as to make sure the "birther" debate continues to overshadow Republican politics. That may indeed be the case. But he could be playing with fire. Mr Corsi wrote the 2004 book Unfit for Command, which brought to public attention the so-called Swift Boat Veterans, who claimed that the then Democrat candidate John Kerry had embellished his war record. While the majority of their claims were found to have been fabricated, Kerry was rejected at the ballot box in favour of George W Bush.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect