'Birther' debate alive and well in New Hampshire
March 9th, 2011
08:32 AM ET
4 years ago

'Birther' debate alive and well in New Hampshire

(CNN) - A New Hampshire House committee voted unanimously, 18-0, on Wednesday to recommend killing an amendment that would require presidential candidates to present birth certificates when filing their candidacy for the first-in-the-nation primary.

The bill is expected to go to a full House floor vote next week.

The chairman of the state's House Election Law Committee told the New Hampshire Union Leader that if passed, the law would not take effect until January 2013, after the Granite State primary and the presidential general election. The bill, which will be considered in committee Wednesday, was originally scheduled to take effect 60 days after passage.

"We recognize the potential problems," Republican state Rep. David Bates told the Leader Tuesday. "It created the appearance that it was all centered on a putting barriers in the way of President Obama."

Bates said the date change "is to diffuse any perception that this was directed at President Obama and is purely a policy decision designed to ensure that candidates for president are qualified according to the requirements of the Constitution."

The so-called "birther" controversy, stemming from questions over President Obama's birthplace, has ignited debates across the country. Lawmakers in at least 10 states have introduced bills requiring presidential candidates to provide proof they are natural-born citizens.

President Obama was in fact born in Hawaii, and on Monday the Supreme Court again rejected an appeal from a "birther" proponent questioning the citizenship of the president.

However, according to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll conducted last year, 27 percent of those surveyed said Obama was definitely or probably not born in the United States, compared with 71 percent who said he was definitely or probably born in the country. More Republicans with 41 percent said Obama was not a natural-born citizen, compared with 15 percent of Democrats and 29 percent of independents surveyed.

The poll had a sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Updated 1:43 p.m.

– CNN Correspondent Lisa Sylvester contributed to this report.


Filed under: New Hampshire
soundoff (99 Responses)
  1. Gumboz1953

    A better thing to do would be to advocate for an amendment to the Constitution, removing that requirement. It was meant to make sure that no British would be elected President and subvert the new country. Nowadays, who cares if a U.S. citizen born and raised in Britain is elected President.

    I'm not Republican, but I really admired Representative Cao, who represented part of New Orleans for one term, until bumped out this past election. He fled Vietnam as a boy, settled in New Orleans, became a lawyer - there is no logical reason in the world why he shouldn't be able to go as far as he wants to go.

    March 9, 2011 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  2. dwillnh

    I am ashamed of being a Granite stater today. This is a great state but there are some extreme right wing people trying to put forth crazy things to appease a new republican majority. Mostly from a group calling themselves "Free Staters". The amazing thing is these same people say they believe in the constitution. That document says the Supreme Court has the final say. But when that court has a decision they don't agree with then its a different story. Birthers need to be re-born into the real world!

    March 9, 2011 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  3. Colleen

    give it a rest..this is getting old...

    March 9, 2011 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  4. Ryan

    'Bates said the date change "is to diffuse any perception that this was directed at President Obama and is purely a policy decision designed to ensure that candidates for president are qualified according to the requirements of the Constitution."'

    No, I'm pretty sure the date change was pushed off just in case Obama wins the next election

    March 9, 2011 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  5. Person

    According to Karl Rove birthers are an Obama/White House conspiracy. Meaning then Michelle Bachman, Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich are in on it as well. This is getting pathetically stupid.

    March 9, 2011 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  6. NameRobert

    People. We have more important issues to deal with. Economy. Jobs. Republicans need to get off the cross cause we need the wood. Move on here.

    March 9, 2011 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  7. terry, va

    Why did they move the effective date of the law to after the next presidential election? Just asking? Where there is smoke there is fire. Just saying.

    March 9, 2011 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  8. JJ

    BTW, the true initiator of this controversy was John McSame, who is a natural born citizen of Panama, not the US and would not have been able to legally take the oath had he won the election in 2008.

    March 9, 2011 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  9. Truthman

    We need to investigate the ancestry of Bachman, Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity, O'Reilly, Peter King, and some of their colleagues. When the USA entered the Second World War, who were their parents and grandparents supportive of? The US government, or organizations supporting our European theater enemies? During the Nuremburg trials in 1946, one of the defendants predicted that within 50 years Europeans would be raising statues to his movement all over Europe. It seems he nearly got it right, just got the continent wrong. Fascism is very much alive today. If we fail to learn from history, we will repeat its mistakes.

    March 9, 2011 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  10. mlc in CA

    Unbelievable. Isn't there something important to do? Like fund schools, make sure your children are not watching gratuitous sex and violence, make sure the people in your communities have health care? But NO. Let's obsess about that non-white guy in the White House.

    March 9, 2011 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  11. vegas01

    Does anyone else find it interesting that this Constitutional requirement is "willfully" being set aside until 2013? Targeting Obama? The Constitution was written almost two centuries before he was born, so that requirement doesn't target anyone. Besides, if he's truly native born, what difference would the new law, specifying how this State will assure the Constitutional provision is met for presidential candidates on ballots in their State, make? Hawaiian laws create the possibility for Obama to be considered a native Hawaiian without actually being born there, and also allow for alterations to birth records that may be inaccurate. The document he has offered to date does not unequivocally prove he meets the Constitutional requirement, but the original, which would bear notations of any changes and from what source the information was gained, would provide clarity.
    Personally, I think it is profoundly immature for Obama to withhold that record and allow notable waste of taxpayer dollars via lawsuits etc. related to this matter.
    If I were in this State's legislature, I would not defer to 2013, but implement the means for assuring this now. The suspicion generated by the withholding of such a simple document, which citizens present routinely for things as simple as enrolling in school, registering for local sports teams, etc. Surely, being President is worthwhile enough to justify doing the same.

    March 9, 2011 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  12. Geoz

    Misleading headline. The debate is not on in NH. We know the truth about it, and anyone who doesn't needs to seek some therapy. This legislation is an attempt to keep this from being a topic in the future.

    March 9, 2011 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  13. Randy, San Francisco

    New Hampshire will be the laughing stock of the nation if this bill passes. Shocking that there are so many gullible people who are so easily fooled by such outrageous misinformation and lies.

    March 9, 2011 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  14. OneMoreTime

    They can pretend all they want that this is not directed at President Obama. Of course it is, and they are also calling
    the President a liar. They are foolish, desperate people, and angry people who should have better things to do than this.
    Silly, silly pissants.

    March 9, 2011 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  15. WayneK

    I have a suggestion: why doesn't the new media just agree not to publish or broadcast any more 'birther' articles? This is a closed issue. These fringe elements who still cling to the notion that the President is not qualified to hold the office will never accept any proof. They would dismiss any birth certificate presented as a forgery. You cannot reason with the irrational, so no use in trying.

    March 9, 2011 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  16. kelsey's grammar

    The Presidential election is federal. Way to waste taxpayer's money, New Hampshire.

    March 9, 2011 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  17. WatchDawg

    WOW, with everything else going in the US economy, all the GOP can do is use misdirection to continue to fool their loyal flock. I suspect if the GOP leaders of tomorrow jumped off a cliff in search of the pot of gold many would follow. Welcome to the new age of BS and Brilliance.

    March 9, 2011 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  18. Publius13

    So the presidential candidates will have to file certified copies of their birth certificates. Unfortunately, certified copies will not satisfy the birthers. They will want originals. So will NH require originals and return the originals after filing, so that presidential candidates can file the originals in the other 10 states that are going to require them? And will these laws require original "long forms" or "short forms?" Only "long forms" will satisfy the birthers.

    Just so the birthers know it, I'm being facetious (facetious = trivially, flippantly, or inappropriately humorous). There is no such thing as a "long form" birth certificate. Nor can presidential candidates (or anyone else for that matter) remove, or cause their original birth certificates to be removed from the custody of the state bureaus that hold them.

    March 9, 2011 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  19. James

    Well as far as Obama goes, somebody ought to step up and prove he wasn't born in the US, otherwise they should all just shut up.

    Though I applaud New Hampshire in some ways for taking the stand that if one candidate has to prove it, then they ALL HAVE TO PROVE IT.

    March 9, 2011 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  20. Ancient Texan

    I personally feel the president is an American regardless of where he was born, since his mother was an American. But you have to feel that if proof positive was found to the contrary, you would not find out until well after he left office.

    March 9, 2011 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  21. Preachercreature

    My personal opinion is that the current President's place of birth is a non-issue since he has been able to show appropriate documentation of his birth in Hawaii (one of our states). I also applaud the "delay clause" in the New Hampshire rule change for its attempt to take current politics out of the equation. It seems to me though, that no matter what proof is eventually required there will always be some unstable folks who will not accept it. Our current situation serves as my case in point. President Obama has clearly shown his birth in Hawaii and his documentation has been upheld in several court decisions including a relatively conservative Supreme Court – yet we continue to hear about some great 'liberal conspiracy" that allowed the stipulations of the Constitution to be circumvented. Some people are just not going to be satisfied no matter what the truth is. What would help is for certain political leaders to stop trying to make hay by fanning the flames with continued rhetoric about his time in Indonesia, his Kenyan father, etc. – which they almost never seem to state correctly. It is irresponsible, a cheap shot, unbecoming of an elected official, and mean spirited. We need to stop the personal attacks and start grappling with the real issues facing the nation and world. I'm sorry, but I just can't support any candidate or political movement whose agenda is supported by disinformation.

    March 9, 2011 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  22. The Other Dale

    So the purpose of the bill – to play GOTCHA with Obama – won't even happen. Complete waste of time and money for everyone involved, isn't it? When will Republicans tell these screwballs to knock it off so they can get back to serious issues? Unless being president is the only job in America they are worried about. Hmm, maybe that is all they meant when they ran on "where are the jobs?"

    March 9, 2011 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  23. John L

    Never let the truth get in the way of a good smear campaign. The Republican leadership and most, if not all, "conservative" commentators are fully aware that Obama was born in Hawai'i. Unfortunately it's politically advantagous for them to allow or even to propagate the "Birther Conspiracy", and for several media pundits, it's financially advantagous to pander to the unease and fear that always accompanies major changes and economic problems. Do you really think that Hillary Clinton would not have published ANY evidence of this during the campaign if it existed. Do you really think the entire might of the Republican Party would not have been all over this and publicly exploited it? Instead, it is the back room, underground fearmongers who like to keep it going. But belief, unlike knowledge, can be unshakeable in the face of facts or logic. I don't care for what President Obama has done in office, but this arguement distracts us from the real issues and solutions. Get over it already and fight for what is important.

    March 9, 2011 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  24. Mark

    Obama spent millions not having to show his birth certificate WHY? I was born abroad as US citizen if I would run for president I would post my birth certificate on the internet that simple. I would put this to rest once and for all.

    March 9, 2011 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  25. ryan cameron

    So while all these christian, conservative right wingnuts are futzing and fighting over something that's been proven beyond reasonable doubt, (just like they do with evolution, and their delusional belief in an invisible man in the sky), they continue to completely ignore poverty, which did, according to some, seem to be Christ's number one concern.

    March 9, 2011 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
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