Obama's birthplace a ballot issue in Arizona

May 21, 2012 at 11:20 AM
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PHOENIX, May 21 (UPI) -- Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett said President Obama may not be on the state's ballot if Hawaii doesn't verify his birth certificate.

Bennett said last week he's been asking Hawaii for verification that the state has Obama's birth certificate on file for two months, making the request for verification on behalf of his constituents, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday. So far, the state has failed to provide it.

"I believe the president was born in Hawaii," Bennett said in a written statement Friday. "I am not a 'birther.' We're merely asking them to officially confirm they have the president's birth certificate in their possession and are awaiting their response."

On Sunday, the Hawaii attorney general's office said information Bennett provided "did not meet the requirements under Hawaii law" and the state "invited him to provide additional legal authority."

Hawaii law allows the state to provide such verification to an outside government agency if that office can show it has the legal authority and a legitimate reason to request it. Bennett's office says he recently provided that information.

In an interview with a Phoenix radio station last week, Bennett said "it's possible" Obama won't be on the ballot if he doesn't receive verification from Hawaii about the president's birth certificate -- long suspect among so-called birthers who maintain he wasn't born in the United States.

Arizona Democrats said Bennett is trying to garner support of a fringe group of Arizona Republicans as he considers a gubernatorial run.

"This is a very calculated move," said Andrei Cherny, former chair of the Arizona Democratic Party who now is running for Congress. "It shows the Republican party has become held in the thrall of a tiny minority as the party has gone farther and farther off the deep-end and the more moderate voices have gotten chased out."

A Bennett spokesman said Sunday the request was "simply done at the request of thousands of voters in Arizona," the Journal said.

An Obama campaign spokesman in Arizona said Bennett's "flirtation with a conspiracy theory that has been debunked time and time again will have no bearing on the election."

Gov. Jan Brewer has said such a request was unnecessary, The Arizona Republic said. She said Friday she had spoken several years ago to her Hawaiian counterpart when the issue first arose.

"She validated to me that the [birth] certificate was valid," Brewer said. "And I put that to rest."

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