COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Tuesday declined to say whether he believes President Barack Obama was born in the United States.

At a news conference with state legislators just hours after he’d introduced a major economic plan, the GOP presidential candidate answered questions about the widely debunked claims that Obama wasn’t actually American-born.

“I’ll cut you off right there,” Perry said when asked about Obama’s birth certificate. “That is one of the biggest distractions that there is going. We need to be talking about jobs.”

But Perry wouldn’t answer a reporter’s direct question about whether he believed the president was born in the United States. Obama’s birth certificate shows he was born in Hawaii.

Speculation about Obama’s birthplace — a way to question his legitimacy to be president — has swirled among conservatives for years. Business mogul Donald Trump brought it up repeatedly as he considered a bid for president. Earlier this year, Obama held a news conference to release his long-form birth certificate and try to put the issue to rest.

Perry also offered to release his own birth certificate Tuesday. “If somebody wants to see my birth certificate, I’d be happy to show it to them,” Perry said. “But the fact is that this is a distraction, and Americans really don’t care about that, if you want to know the truth of the matter.”

The comments come on the heels of Perry’s interview with CNBC and The New York Times, released Tuesday morning, in which he said the birth certificate question was “a good issue to keep alive.”

“It’s fun to poke him a little bit,” Perry said of the president.

Perry’s comments are keeping alive an issue that some Republican party elders say is bad for the party.

“Republican candidates should categorically reject the notion that President Obama was not born in the United States,” former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush told The Washington Post in an email. “It is a complete distraction from the failed economic policies of the president.”

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour also said it was a distraction.

“Look, if this election is about Barack Obama’s policies and the results of those policies, Barack Obama’s gonna lose,” Barbour told reporters in Washington when he was asked about Perry’s comments. “Any other issue that gets injected into the campaign is not good for the Republicans.”

But to win the nomination, Perry has to appeal to the conservative base of the party — and talking about Obama’s birth certificate could be a way to reach those voters.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (19)
  1. G Dog says:

    This again?

    Get a life Tea Party seditionists!

    1. Pat says:

      The GOP will have the economy rolling is the first 100 days. Once they give big corporations what they want, there will be lots of $7.50 an hour jobs for everyone. Let’s vote our way into a bigger mess than we are already in.

  2. smb says:

    The ravings of a desperate man.

  3. stubby says:

    Right there ol’ g dog, there are a thousand other things to blast loser obama for, let’s not waste time on this.

    1. Mark says:

      Like the policies of the obstructionist Republican leadership in the house and senate, right?

      1. stuby says:

        No, they are just trying to stop this loser from ruining the country more than he already has.

  4. gdog says:

    Why are interviewers still asking this question? Aren’t they satisfied with what Pres. Obama has already provided? I agree, the media needs to let this go.

  5. gdog says:

    Sorry, I forgot, I’m supposed to change my handle, there’s someone else that also goes by G Dog. I’ll think of something more creative.

  6. dan says:

    These journalists are jokes. Why would you ask such a stupid question unless you are looking for controversy. Perry answered it perfectly. Why dont you ask him if he believes in ghosts? Neither question is valid

    1. smb says:

      No he didn’t answer it perfectly. If he didn’t want to add to the distraction he could have just said ‘Yes, I saw his birth certificate and I believe he was born in the U.S.’

      But then he would have alienated the fringe loons who won’t accept that Obama is in fact a citizen.

      However, I do believe the journalist was digging for controversy. They need to stop asking the question.

  7. Coons and Loons says:

    Perry was asked a few days ago if he has hemmoroids. He still has his head up his a** looking around.
    What can ya say ? You have the Crazy Loon, the Wacky Roid Man, the other lost souls in the GOP and then you have Mitt and Ron. I’ll take either one

  8. Joe Biden says:

    The Loser President we have in the Oval Office who has a hard time talking without a tele-prompter was born in Kenya. The Birth Certificate presented 2.5 years later is misguided at best. I’m next in Command to further ruin the States thru ineffective leadership.

    1. max says:

      You have simply got to be kidding.

    2. llp says:

      Must be a Teabagger how un-Amreican

      1. max says:

        Probably believes the earth is flat too.

  9. Kevin says:

    he looks like a demon.

  10. llp says:

    He should pay attention to his own words

    Perry said: “In his own words, he says ‘Listen, I need to say whatever I need to say for whatever office I’m running for’.”

  11. Zippity doo dah says:

    Can’t we just give all of our money to Zippy Wilf?

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