Obama's birth again an issue as electors vote

2012-12-18T00:00:00Z Obama's birth again an issue as electors voteHoward Fischer Capitol Media Services Arizona Daily Star
December 18, 2012 12:00 am  • 

PHOENIX - Arizona's 11 Republican electors formally cast their votes Monday for Mitt Romney - but not before three of them, including the state party chairman, said questions remain about whether President Obama is a natural-born citizen.

"I'm not satisfied with what I've seen," said Tom Morrissey, head of the Arizona Republican Party, after signing the formal paperwork to cast his Electoral College vote for Romney.

"I think for somebody in the president's position to not have produced a document that looks more legitimate, I have a problem with that," Morrissey said.

John Rhodes, another GOP elector, expressed similar sentiments as he signed the required paperwork certifying his vote for Romney. Both also specifically used Obama's middle name, Hussein, in their public comments.

And Don Ascoli said the fact that a majority of Americans voted for Obama, even having heard perennial allegations now for years, is irrelevant to finding out the truth. He said that was borne out in the tenure of the last Democratic president. "The majority of the people had no dream that Bill Clinton did what he did until a young lady had a blue dress and proved he did. And he had to come out and apologize to the world because he lied to you and me."

Gov. Jan Brewer, sitting in the front row to watch Monday's proceedings, sought after the ceremony to distance herself from the view of her fellow Republicans. "The bottom line is everybody's entitled to their own opinion," she said. "And I happen to disagree."

Brewer has done more than just disagree. Last year she vetoed legislation that would have required candidates for president to provide documents to the secretary of state proving they meet the federal constitutional requirement to be a "natural-born citizen" before their name is placed on the ballot. The measure, dubbed the "birther bill," would have made Arizona the only place to let a state official determine if a presidential candidate is qualified to run.

Earlier this year, Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, acting on his own, did ask officials in Hawaii to verify the authenticity of a birth certificate, a copy of which the White House had placed online. Bennett, who serves as the state's chief elections officer, eventually said that Hawaii officials "have complied with the request, and I consider the matter closed." He said Monday that he remains convinced Obama meets the qualifications.

But Monday's comments by three people, hand-picked by Republican Party officials for the honor of being an elector, shows the issue is far from dead, at least in Arizona.

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