Rick Perry Doubles Down on Birther Issue

Perry in Iowa. Is he risking his candidacy with birther talk? Nati Harnik/AP Photo

Gov. Rick Perry will unveil an economic plan today that he hopes will revive the economy as well as his campaign, but in an interview prior to his speech, he returned to the birther issue which arose over the weekend.

“Look I haven’t seen his, I haven’t seen his grades.  My grades ended up on the front page of the newspaper, so let’s you know, if we’re going to show stuff, let’s show stuff, but look that’s all a distraction, I mean I get it. I’m really not worried about the president’s birth certificate.  It’s fun to poke at him a little bit and say ‘Hey, how about let’s see your grades and your birth certificate,” Perry said in an interview with CNBC’s John Harwood Monday night.

Over the weekend, Perry opened speculation over the birther topic when he did not give a direct answer about where he stands on the issue.

“I have no reason to think otherwise,” Perry said of President Obama’s birth place in an interview with Parade Magazine published Sunday.  Perry said the topic of Obama’s birth certificate arose during a dinner last month with Donald Trump, who led the crusade to force Obama to unveil his birth certificate.

But when asked what Perry believed about it, he said:  ”I don’t have any idea. It doesn’t matter. He’s the president of the United States. He’s elected. It’s a distractive issue.”

A spokesman for Perry said the Texas governor’s first answer “appears to be very clear.” But other Republicans have warned Perry of the dangerous line he’s dealing with when he brings up these birther topics.

“You associate yourself with a nutty view like that, and you damage yourself,” Karl Rove said Monday on FOX News.  ”And I know he went and he’s trying to cultivate — as all of them are — Donald Trump, in order to get his endorsement, but this is not the way to go about doing it, because it starts to marginalize you in the minds of some of the people whom you need in order to get the election.”

“There’s a simple answer,” Rove said. “Yes, he was born in the United States, yes, he is eligible to serve, and don’t associate yourself with sort of this nutty fringe group.”