April 27th, 2011
10:06 AM ET
By CNN's Alan Silverleib
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The White House released copies of President Barack Obama's original long-form birth certificate Wednesday, seeking to put an end to persistent rumors that he was not born in the United States.
"We do not have time for this kind of silliness," Obama told reporters at the White House.
"Normally I would not comment on something like this," the president said. But the country has "enormous challenges" that it will not be able to effectively meet "if we're distracted."
The president ripped what he characterized as a recent focus on "side shows" and "carnival barkers."
Obama released a shorter, legally binding "certificate of live birth" in 2008, but many opponents of the president continued to assert he was born overseas.
The administration had to make a special request from the state ofHawaiito get the long-form birth certificate released, White House legal counsel Bob Bauer said. Typically, the state only releases what's called a certificate of live birth when people request a birth certificate.
While the president has tried to make light of the controversy, the question has remained political red meat for some of his critics. A recent CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll showed that nearly 75% of Americans believe Obama was definitely or probably born in theUnited States. More than four in 10 Republicans, however, believe he probably or definitely was not born inAmerica.
The U.S. Constitution says only "natural born" citizens can become president - a vague clause that some members of the "birther" movement contend disqualifies Obama from the presidency, since they believe he was born overseas.
"The president believed the distraction over his birth certificate wasn't good for the country," White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said. "It may have been good politics and good (television), but it was bad for the American people and distracting from the many challenges we face as a country.
"At a time of great consequence for this country - when we should be debating how we win the future, reduce our deficit, deal with high gas prices, and bring stability to the Middle East,Washington,D.C., was once again distracted by a fake issue," Pfeiffer said. "The president's hope is that with this step, we can move on to debating the bigger issues that matter to the American people and the future of the country."
Pfeiffer told reporters that the so-called "birther debate" has been politically damaging to the Republican Party.
Skeptics contend, among other things, that Obama was born in his father's home country ofKenya. Potential GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump recently seized on the issue, saying he had doubts about Obama's background.
Following the White House's release of the long-form birth certificate, Trump told reporters in New Hampshire Wednesday morning that he is "very proud" of himself for helping to bring about the release of the document.
"I've accomplished something nobody else was able to accomplish," Trump said. "I'd want to look at (the birth certificate), but I hope it's true so that we can get on to much more important matters."
Obama "should have (released the certificate) a long, long time ago," he said.
Trump, a billionaire business tycoon and reality television star, blamed the media for repeatedly bringing up the issue. Trump, however, has frequently raised questions about Obama's birthplace during his climb in recent GOP primary polls.
Allegations that Obama was not born in theUnited Stateshave been repeatedly discredited. A recent CNN investigation turned up no evidence to support the birther claims.