Columbia, South Carolina (CNN) – Texas Gov. Rick Perry may be ready to put the so-called birther issue to rest after it became an unnecessary footnote to the rollout of his flat-tax announcement.
At a news conference in South Carolina's capital Tuesday, the Republican presidential candidate was asked about a recent interview with Parade magazine in which he raised doubts about the authenticity of President Barack Obama’s birth certificate.
Perry never answered a question from CNN about whether he believes the president was born in the United States.
The Texas governor called the issue a "distraction."
"What Americans really want to talk about is jobs," Perry said.
The White House hopeful is partly to blame for causing such a big distraction on the day of his “Cut, Balance, and Grow” economic plan rollout.
Perry injected new life into the controversy, thanks to an interview he gave to CNBC top political reporter John Harwood Tuesday morning, where he said “it’s fun to poke” at Obama over the validity of his birth certificate.
Even though there is no evidence to suggest the president was not born in the United States, Perry refused to definitively denounce such speculation in the CNBC interview or during the Q & A with CNN at the press conference.
Perry did offer to release his own birth certificate.
“We need to be talking about jobs,” Perry said. “If somebody wants to see my birth certificate, I’d be happy to show it to him. But the fact is that is a distraction and Americans really don’t care about that.”
The Perry campaign did not respond to CNN’s request to see the governor’s birth certificate.
Many in the Republican Party are calling on Perry to drop the birther issue.
GOP presidential contender Jon Huntsman, former Utah governor and U.S. ambassador to China, tweeted “Barack Obama was born in America. Period. Let’s stop this and focus instead on how we fix the economy that he bungled.”
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush released this statement: “Republican candidates should categorically reject the notion that President Obama was not born in the United States. It is a complete distraction from the failed economic policies of the president.”
- CNN's Kevin Bohn and Karrah Kaplan contributed to this report.