HONOLULU — State officials in Hawaii said they have once again checked and confirmed that President Barack Obama was born in Hawaii and is a natural-born American citizen, and therefore meets a key constitutional requirement for being president.
They hoped to stem a recent surge in the number of inquiries about Obama's birthplace.
"I ... have seen the original vital records maintained on file by the Hawaii State Department of Health verifying Barack Hussein Obama was born in Hawaii and is a natural-born American citizen," Health Director Dr. Chiyome Fukino said in a brief statement Monday. "I have nothing further to add to this statement or my original statement issued in October 2008 over eight months ago."
So-called "birthers" — who claim Obama is ineligible to be president because, they argue, he was actually born outside the United States — have grown more vocal recently on blogs and television news shows.
Fukino issued a similar press release Oct. 31, but was prompted to speak out again because of the renewed attention on Obama's beginnings. Hawaii's Health Department has been flooded in recent weeks with questions from individuals and several national TV news networks asking for proof that Obama was indeed born in Hawaii.
"They just keep asking over and over and over again," Health Department spokeswoman Janice Okubo said.
The Constitution states that a person must be a "natural-born citizen" to be eligible for the presidency. Birthers contend that Obama's birth certificate is a fake, and many say he was actually born in Kenya, his father's homeland. They have challenged his citizenship in court.
One widely circulated YouTube clip of a town hall meeting showed a Republican congressman getting booed for saying Obama is a citizen. Talk show host Rush Limbaugh and CNN's Lou Dobbs have also raised the issue, and 10 Republican members of Congress co-sponsored a bill that would require future presidential candidates to provide a copy of their original birth certificate.
However, it appears Congress has moved on and has accepted Obama's island birthplace. The U.S. House on Monday unanimously approved a resolution recognizing and celebrating the 50th anniversary of Hawaii becoming the 50th state. A clause was included that reads: "Whereas the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, was born in Hawaii on August 4, 1961."
State law bars the release of a certified birth certificate to anyone who does not have a tangible interest.
However, Obama's birth certificate along with birth notices from the two Honolulu newspapers were brought forward even before he took office. But that's done nothing to shake the belief by many Obama critics that the president was born abroad.