A nifty example of a Republican pol with his eye on higher office using Birtherism to pander to the most passionately anti-Obama members of his base. Note how fine a line he’s walking here. He says he believes/hopes that O was born in Hawaii and hasn’t questioned the authenticity of the birth certificate — he needs to preserve his mainstream appeal, after all — so instead he pounds the table, righteously unyielding in his demand that … some Hawaii bureaucrat shoot him an e-mail confirming that, yes, their files support the information in the BC. Finally, someone did. Crisis averted.
“Late yesterday, our office received the ‘verification in-lieu of certified copy’ from officials within the Hawaii Department of Health that we requested in March,” Bennett said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon. “They have officially confirmed that the information in the copy of the Certificate of Live Birth for the President matches the original record in their files.”
Bennett also defended his decision to request the additional information, which drew massive national headlines. The secretary of state, who is planning to run for governor in 2014, has repeatedly said that he is not a “birther” who believes Obama was born abroad. He was merely answering the requests of over a thousand Arizonans who wanted Obama’s birth certificate examined.
“At the request of numerous constituents, I merely asked Hawaiian officials to verify the information contained within President Obama’s original birth certificate,” he said in the statement. “They have complied with the request and I consider the matter closed.”
That’s sort of like standing up at a town hall meeting, denouncing O as a mysterious interloper for 20 minutes, then being handed a copy of his birth certificate and going, “Ah, okay then.” Why even go through the motions of making a request that was so easily satisfied? Because, as Dave Weigel noted the other day, Joe Arpaio has owned the Birther issue lately, replete with sending one of his own deputies to Hawaii to accompany a group that’s investigating O’s birth certificate. Given Arpaio’s stature among Arizona conservatives, his endorsement would be a boon to Bennett if there’s a primary fight in the 2014 gubernatorial primary; at the very least, Bennett wants to be seen as having done enough to ventilate Birther claims that Arpaio himself doesn’t feel compelled to challenge him. It’s politics, even though this issue will evaporate instantly if Romney pulls it out in November.
Exit question: Forget the birth certificate, as there’s a bigger scandal brewing. Was Barack Obama … the first tea partier?