President Obama’s 2012 presidential campaign today started selling “Made in the USA” t-shirts featuring images of both President Obama and the long-form birth certificate he released copies of last month.
“Wear your support for this campaign with an official Made in the USA T-shirt,” his website advertises. Donate $25 or more today and we'll send you your limited-edition shirt.
“Remember ‘fight the smears’ from the 2008 campaign?” asked campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt. “This is the mobile version of it.”
Part of the reason for the shirts, a campaign official told ABC News, is that despite the president’s release last month of his long-form birth certificate, conservative fact-challenged author Jerome Corsi’s book “Where's the Birth Certificate?: The Case that Barack Obama is not Eligible to be President” was published this week.
A Gallup poll released last week indicate that 65% of those polled say the president “definitely” or “probably” was born in the U.S. Thirteen percent of Americans say the president “definitely” or “probably” was born in another country. Twenty percent say they don’t know enough to form an opinion. These numbers are trending towards the correct belief that the president was born in the U.S.
Selling products featuring the long-form birth certificate might be a risk for the campaign, given how seriously the president and many of his top aides have objected to the birther lie, some suggesting that it is in no small part a racist way to make the president seem “other.” Merchandise featuring the birth certificate could be seen as trivializing those concerns, or even crassly exploiting them to raise campaign cash.
The birther lie thrived despite the certificate of live-birth candidate Obama posted on his website in 2008, contemporaneous newspaper accounts in the Hawaiian newspapers the Advertiser and Star Bulletin or fact-checking by Politifact and Factcheck.org.
Last month President Obama released his long-form birth certificate, after then-potential Republican candidate Donald Trump began questioning yet again if President Obama was born in the United States and polls indicated an increasing number of Americans were starting to question where the president was born.
In April President Obama decried the “sideshows and carnival barkers” when finally releasing his long-form copy of his birth certificate. Some White House advisers told the president not to dignify the sideshows and carnival barkers, but White House aides say two weeks ago President Obama was dismayed when in the midst of his squaring off against House Republicans over budget priorities many in the media chose instead to focus on the false charges Trump leveled about the president’s birth certificate.
In April of 2011 when Mr. Obama appeased the “birther” critics by releasing the long-form birth certificate polls indicated that more and more Americans were believing the untruth. Only 33% of Republicans said that the president was born in the U.S., with 45% sure he was born outside the U.S., and 22 percent unsure where he was born, a recent New York Times/CBS News poll from earlier this month reported. Nineteen percent of Democrats said the president was born outside the U.S. or weren’t sure where he was born. Forty-eight percent of independents were either sure he was born outside the U.S. or weren’t clear either way.
“We do not have time for this kind of silliness,” President Obama said in late April when releasing his birth certificate hoping to put this issue today bed. “We’ve got better stuff to do.”
-Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller