THE White House moved last night to end persistent rumours about Barack Obama’s birthplace by releasing his original long Certificate of Live Birth that confirms he was born in Hawaii on August 4, 1961.
The sudden decision – more than two years into his presidency and four years since he became a candidate for the White House – is a victory of sorts for real estate billionaire Donald Trump after his revival of claims that Mr Obama was not born in the US.
Speaking from the White House briefing room late last night, Mr Obama confessed bemusement over the birth controversy. He said the media’s obsession over the “sideshow” issue for the past 2 1/2 years was a distraction in a “serious time”.
Mr Trump has used the claims to cast doubt on Mr Obama’s legitimacy as president. He is also casting doubts on Mr Obama’s academic record at Columbia and Harvard universities.
Mr Trump said late last night he wanted to look at the certificate, but he hoped it was true. “He should have done it a long time ago,” Mr Trump said.
Amid questions during Mr Obama’s 2008 run for the White House, his campaign released a Certificate of Live birth to verify he was a native-born citizen, a constitutional requirement of the office. Administration officials felt compelled to release additional documentation because the continued distraction was harmful for the country.
White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer said Mr Obama was “struck by how this was crowding out the debate” on curbing the out-of-control US federal budget deficit.
“It may have been good politics and good TV, but it was bad for the American people and distracting from the many challenges we face as a country,” Mr Pfeiffer wrote on the White House blog.
To receive the long-form document, the President personally sent a request to the Hawaii Department of Health.
The state of Hawaii has faced a regular barrage of requests for information about Mr Obama’s birth, but privacy rules barred it from releasing the full birth certificate.
The White House said it granted this exception “in part because of the tremendous volume of requests they had been getting”.