WASHINGTON, Dec. 30, 2010— -- Andy Martin has worn a lot of hats in his life: lawyer, talk-radio host and professor. But now the self-crowned "king of the birthers" says he wants to be president of the United States.
The political agitator, 65, who believes President Obama is not a natural-born citizen because his father was Kenyan, announced his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination from New Hampshire Wednesday.
"All these lawsuits that have been filed over Obama's birth certificate are garbage because none of the courts are going to challenge the chief executive," he said in an interview. "So, we're just going to have to beat him in an election."
Martin, who failed in a bid earlier this year for Obama's old Illinois U.S. Senate seat, acknowledged the chance to go head-to-head with Obama is a long shot. But he's convinced his message has a loyal following and will influence conversations within the Republican Party.
"My message will drive other candidates," he said. "We're going to go back and vet Obama for the first time and this is going to be very corrosive. Many people are frustrated by the fact that the institutions we have aren't capable of dealing with questions that they feel are very serious."
Martin and fellow birthers in what he describes as a "very unruly kingdom" have raised questions about what they see as a lack of transparency by Obama and the administration surrounding the facts of his birth and upbringing.
Many of the movement's claims are unsubstantiated conspiracy theories with the underlying political objective of undermining Obama.
"You couldn't sell this script in Hollywood," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters in response to a question about the birthers in August 2009.
But despite overwhelming evidence that seems to debunk many of the claims, the questions have festered.
Fourteen 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.
'Birther King': Campaign About Transparency
Martin said he believes Obama was born on U.S. soil, in Honolulu, Hawaii, as indicated on the "certification of live birth" released in 2008 by the Obama campaign.
But he speculates that the long-form birth certificate, which has yet to be made public and remains at the center of the birther's debate, contains "embarrassing information" that could show Obama has lied about some circumstances of his family life.
"My platform is simple," Martin said. "Please release the long-form birth certificate, and please deal with people who have these questions in a respectable and serious way and recognize that whatever is in these documents you're going to be forgiven for. It's not a question of punishment, it's a question of truth."
The debate and swirling conspiracies surrounding Obama's birth resurfaced last week when Hawaii's new governor, Neil Abercrombie, a Democrat, announced that debunking the birthers claims was a priority.
"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."
That announcement also spurred Martin to action.
"Abercrombie is a fascinating guy because he is the 'Last of the Mohicans.' He actually knew these people, the Obamas. They smoked dope together," he said, offering no evidence. "I hope he can help clear up the facts."
Martin said he plans to file paperwork to run in the New Hampshire primary later next year.