December 27th, 2010
02:10 PM ET
HONOLULU, Hawaii (CNN) - Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie vowed to end the "birther" controversy surrounding President Obama's nationality once and for all.
Abercrombie, a newly-elected Democrat, told CNN that he will do whatever it takes to prove once and for all that Obama was born in Hawaii.
"We'll do what we can as quickly as we can to make it inevitable that only those who wish the president ill, only the ones with a political agenda, will be the ones doing this kind of thing," Abercrombie said. "The president is entitled to the respect of his office and he's entitled to have his mother and father respected."
Abercrombie, in his first on-camera comments on the matter, said that he has his attorney general and the state's Health Department director looking at what legal avenues can they follow to release more documentation of Obama's birth in 1961.
"As quick as we can we will," Abercrombie said. "This is a transparent state in terms of our communication with one another. This is the Aloha State. We care for each other, we look out for each other, we're family."
In a sign of how politically radioactive the issue is, White House officials would not comment on the remarks by Abercrombie, a former congressman who was sworn in as governor this month.
But the governor made clear in the CNN interview that he will push forward on this matter regardless of whether the White House is privately worried that it may bring more attention to the so-called "birthers" who continue to deny that Obama was born in America - despite evidence showing that he was.
"We haven't had any of those discussions," Abercrombie said of the White House. "It's a matter of principle with me. I knew his mom and dad. I was here when he was born. Anybody who wants to ask a question honestly could have had their answer already."
Asked if one option is to ask Obama to waive his privacy rights so that a copy of his actual birth certificate can be released publicly, Abercrombie cut off a reporter's question.
"No, no, no - it's not up to the president," he said. "It has nothing to do with the president. It has to do with the people of Hawaii who love him, people who love his mom and dad. It has to do with respect the office of the president is entitled to. And it has to do with respect that every single person's mother and father are entitled to."
Pressed on whether he might unilaterally release a copy of Obama's actual birth certificate, Abercrombie made clear that he is waiting for his cabinet officials to give him a report on what he can legally do before proceeding.
"Obviously, I'm going to do what is legally possible," the governor said.
Throughout the interview, Abercrombie was dripping with disgust for the birthers, saying his goal is to have an open process so that he can "put those who want to disrespect the president and his parents in the proper light, which is to say they have a political agenda not worthy of any good American."
Abercrombie repeatedly mentioned Obama's deceased parents, Barack Obama Sr. and Ann Dunham, because he knew both of them personally here in Hawaii and he is clearly motivated in large part by the notion of letting the President's parents rest in peace.
"It's an insult to his mother and father," he said. "How would anybody like to have their mother and father in that kind of situation?"
The governor said that he was friends with both parents, after Obama's father arrived from Africa.
"His father was one of the first scholarship students coming to the United States and he came to the University of Hawaii, which we were very proud (of)," said Abercrombie. "We became good friends."
The senior Obama was "a brilliant man," he said. "His mom was wonderful. We were happy to have them here with us as long as we did."
Obama was born on August 4, 1961 at the Kapiolani Maternity and Gynecological Hospital. Two separate birth announcements appeared in the local newspapers, The Honolulu Advertiser and The Honolulu Star-Bulletin, in 1961.
But starting in the 2008 campaign, critics of Obama tried to delegitimize his candidacy by claiming he was born in Kenya or some other country, which would make him ineligible to serve as president.
The Obama campaign released a "certification of live birth," which is an official document in Hawaii.
But that has not been enough for birthers, who have demanded to see a copy of Obama's actual birth certificate, saying the certificate of live birth does not prove that he was born here. The cause has continued beyond the campaign through the first two years of Obama's presidency.
Lawmakers in some states, including Texas, are trying to keep Obama off the ballot in 2012 by seeking to pass legislation demanding that presidential candidates show their actual birth certificate.
Abercrombie seemed resigned to the possibility that offering more evidence still might not satisfy some critics.
"You're not going to convince those people because they have a political agenda or they have minds that go in that kind of direction," he said. "Conspiratorial theorists are never going to be satisfied. This has gone into another area of political attack."
But the governor still seemed determined to try and end the controversy once and for all.
"Anybody in this country who has a mom and dad and wants to have that mom and dad respected understands exactly what I'm doing," said Abercrombie. "This has nothing to do with a political agenda of mine or anybody else's. What it has to do with is the Aloha spirit and it has to do with the sense of family that we have for one another here in Hawaii. That's why the president comes here to Hawaii. He's home with family."