Birther Saga Continues: Romney Releases Birth Certificate

Mitt Romney has added another element to the rising "birther" storyline by releasing a copy of his own birth certificate.

Or, as the document states, a "Certificate of Live Birth" from Michigan.

Romney gave the document to Reuters as his fundraiser du jour, Donald Trump, on Tuesday repeated his erroneous claim on the airwaves that President Obama was born in Kenya and is therefore not allowed to occupy the White House.

The birth certificate has a visible reminder of a more legitimate "birther" controversy - efforts by Romney's father to run for president despite being born in Mexico. George Romney was granted American citizenship because his parents were U.S. citizens - but Democrats in Congress preempted his run by questioning his eligibility.

The Congressional Research Service even stepped in, siding with the elder Romney.

It's perhaps a sign of the absurdity of American politics that the modern birther fringe movement has gained so much attention in the media and among right-wing critics of Obama. Before releasing his long-form birth certificate last year in response to Trump's demands, Obama had made public his own "Certificate of Live Birth," which birthers claimed wasn't a real birth certificate.

Later today, Democrats circulated news of Republican Pete Hoekstra, a former House member who is running for the Senate in Michigan, appearing in a video clip of a rally in which he proposed a panel including people from the FBI and the CIA to determine that presidential candidates are U.S. citizens. Hoekstra told CNN today his "proposal" is "very, very simple."

Reached by phone today, Orly Taitz, an early leader of the movement to delegitimize Obama's presidency, maintained that Obama's long-form document is fraudulent for whatever reason - but she also said Romney should "absolutely" make his long-form certificate available, too.

When he was running for president, Obama signed on to a bill in the Senate that would make it clear that John McCain is eligible to be commander-in-chief - he was born outside the United States, in the Panama Canal Zone, when his father was in the Navy there.

Now the main birther controversy is why Mitt Romney is palling around with Trump, and while the candidate says he thinks Obama was born in the United States, he hasn't condemned Trump for spreading the conspiracy theory. Last night, they raised money together in Las Vegas, and the Obama campaign has hounded Romney for tying himself to a stubborn birther.

Trump has more allies than you might think in his fight. Michael Andretti, a race car driver who was on Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice," said in an interview that Trump's plain-speaking style is lacking in American politics. But he conceded that Trump needs evidence for his birther theory to stick.

"It'd be nice if he could have some hard, hard proof on it," Andretti said. "If he did, then I think you need to really shout it out."