Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie Wants Facts to Silence 'Birthers'

Democrat Neil Abercrombie wants more information on Obama's birth revealed.

December 29, 2010, 10:57 AM

Dec. 29, 2010— -- Three weeks into his first term as governor, Hawaii Democrat Neil Abercrombie says ending conspiracy theories surrounding President Obama's birthplace is a priority.

Abercrombie, a friend of Obama's late parents, has described in several recent interviews a personal, emotional interest in ending the so-called birther debate. And he has instructed the state attorney general and health department director to explore ways to let the facts of Obama's birth to speak for themselves.

"It's an emotional insult. It is disrespectful to the president; it is disrespectful to the office," Abercrombie said of the controversy to the New York Times. "There's no reason on earth to have the memory of his parents insulted by people whose motivation is solely political. ... Let's put this particular canard to rest."

But doing that could be much easier said than done.

At the center of the debate is an original, long-form birth certificate for Obama that contains the name of the hospital and the doctor, his or her signature, the baby's birth weight, and the national origin of the parents. It has not been made public.

The Obama campaign released a "certification of live birth" -- a short-form certificate that carries the same legal weight as the longer -- in 2008, but it didn't quiet skeptics who insist Obama was born in Kenya.

The certification document lists only the date, hour and location of Obama's birth, as well as the names and race of his parents. It includes an embossed seal of authenticity from the Department of Health, according to images posted online.

The birthers, who have provided no evidence to support their claims, believe the withholding of Obama's original birth document reflects a conspiracy to cover up Obama's ineligibility to hold the presidency.

State law prohibits the release of original birth records to persons without a "direct and tangible interest."

'Birthers' Unlikely to Go Away

Only Obama, his wife, children, relatives, parents or lawyers have such an interest, according to the text of the law. None has consented for the document to be released.

Whether Abercrombie can provide access to the original birth records without Obama's permission remains unclear. It's also unlikely the additional information will totally silence all the politically motivated skeptics.

Still, Abercrombie's mission has refocused attention on the debate and even stirred some opponents of the conspiracy theorists to press Obama to voluntarily provide the information.

Liberal MSNBC talk-show host Chris Matthews joined the fray earlier this week by urging the president to release the original birth record.

"I am not a birther, I am an enemy of the birthers," Matthews said on his show "Hardball." But "why has the president himself not demanded that they put out the initial documents?"

The administration has been reluctant to be seen as bowing to politically motivated extremists whose views are not substantiated. As a citizen, Obama is also entitled to privacy rights under the law.

"A year and a half ago I asked that the birth certificate be put on the Internet because lord knows if you have a birth certificate and put it on the Internet, what else could be the story?" White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters in July 2009. "Nothing will assuage them...But there are 10,000 more important issues for people in this country to discuss."

Meanwhile, the requests for publicly available information on Obama's birth continue to come into the Hawaii Department of Health.

The agency had received 27 requests so far this month, as of last week, up from 16 requests in November. Earlier this year, officials were fielding up to 50 requests a month for a copy of Obama's certificate, according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Former Gov. Linda Lingle, a Republican, signed a law in May allowing the department to ignore repeated requests, many of which came from the same person with several aliases.

A "certification of live birth" posted online and viewed in-person by reporters from several independent news outlets shows that Obama was born in Honolulu at 7:24 p.m. Aug. 4, 1961.

Newspapers Announced Obama Birth

It lists his father, Barack Obama Sr., and mother, Stanley Ann Dunham.

The nonpartisan group FactCheck.org determined the document was authentic, writing on its blog, "Obama was born in the U.S.A. just as he has always said."

Archives of two local papers -- the Honolulu Star Bulletin and Honolulu Advertiser -- also contain birth announcements for a young Obama son in early August 1961.

Still, 14 percent of Americans say, without prompting, that they think Obama was born in another country, according to the most recent ABC News-Washington Post poll.

But for many, it's not a firm belief, and some appear not to hold it against him, the findings reveal.

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