First off: Despite the protester who regularly screams at me about Obama’s birth certificate when I approach the White House gates, there is no serious doubt about the fact that Barack Obama was born in Hawaii. None. Nada. Zippo. Hawaiian state officials have said there is no doubt–they have the paperwork. Factcheck.org has seen and touched a copy of Obama’s birth certificate. The U.S. Supreme Court dismissed, without comment, a lawsuit alleging otherwise. The rest is just unsubstantiated conspiracy.
And honorable U.S. Senators are supposed to steer clear of unsubstantiated conspiracies. So what is Sen. Richard Shelby, the ranking Republican on the Banking Committee, doing? According to Alabama’s Cullman Times (h/t Ben Smith), Shelby did in fact leave the question open when asked whether or not Obama is an illegal president at a recent constituent meeting.
Another local resident asked Shelby if there was any truth to a rumor that appeared during the presidential campaign concerning Obama’s U.S. citizenship, or lack thereof. “Well his father was Kenyan and they said he was born in Hawaii, but I haven’t seen any birth certificate,” Shelby said. “You have to be born in America to be president.”
One can safely assume that a clarification will be forthcoming.
UPDATE: Via Smith, the clarification arrives, along with a claim that the local paper distorted Shelby’s original statement:
[Shelby Spokesman Jonathan] Graffeo calls to say that the Cullman Times report is a “distortion” and that Shelby mentioned that he hadn’t seen the birth certificate only as a “throwaway line” while listing the qualifications for office and explaining that the issue had been examined at length and put to rest. “He doesn’t have any doubt” about Obama’s citizenship and eligibility, Graffeo said.
ANOTHER UPDATE: The Cullman Times stands by its story as “complete and accurate.” The newspaper has also put out a public call for “any video or audio recordings of Sen. Shelby’s comments at Saturday’s meeting.”