CNN’s Anderson Cooper came prepared Monday to an interview with a Republican Texas state representative who questions President Barack Obama’s citizenship.
Rep. Leo Berman has introduced a bill that would require any candidate for president or vice president of the United States to provide his or her birth certificate to the Texas secretary of state.
“This bill is necessary because we have a president whom the American people don’t know whether he was born in Kenya or some other place,” Leo Berman, who has represented the 6th District of Texas since 1999, told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.
“I don’t know anything about President Obama,” Berman told Cooper Monday.
“There’s a certificate of live birth, which is what the state of Hawaii sends out,” Cooper explained. “Why isn’t that good enough?”
“Well, because it’s not an original birth certificate. It doesn’t show the parents’ place of birth. And, also, we know for certain that President Obama’s father was born in Kenya. Since he was born in Kenya, in — that was a British protectorate. President Obama was born in 1961. And with his father being a British citizen, at least, President Obama, we think, holds dual citizenship,” Berman replied.
“Well, actually, technically that’s not correct,” Cooper said. “He may have been born with duel citizenship because of the technicality of his father being under the British — a British subject, being from Kenya, but he automatically lost that in — at the age of 23.”
“And the Hawaii state health director has acknowledged that, back in 2008, she has — and I quote — ‘personally seen and verified that the Hawaii State Department of Health has Senator Obama’s original birth certificate — certificate on record, in accordance with state policies and procedures,’” Cooper continued.
“The governor of Hawaii, who is a Republican, was quoted as saying: ‘I had my health director, who is a physician by background, go personally view the birth certificate in the birth records at the Department of Health. We issued a news release at the time saying the president was, in fact, born at Kapi’olani Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii. And that is just a fact,’” he explained.
“Well, my question to you, then, Anderson, is, why — did you see it? I would like to see it,” Berman said.
“You can go and see it. The nonpartisan fact-checking organization FactCheck.org, they — they looked at it. It has a raised seal. They say it’s legit,” Cooper noted.
In August 2008, FactCheck.org confirmed that it had examined and verified Obama’s birth certificate.
Then Cooper wanted to know if Berman had applied the same test to Republican presidents.
“[H]ave you seen George W. Bush’s transcripts from college?” Cooper asked.
“I could see anything I want from George W. Bush,” Berman replied.
“Actually, sir, you couldn’t… President Bush refused to release that information from Andover and from his time at Yale,” Cooper said.
Ignoring that question, Berman repeated a debunked internet rumor that Obama traveled to Pakistan in 1981 during a ban on US citizens traveling there. “Where are the president’s passports and his travel records which got him to Pakistan in the early ’90s, when no U.S. citizen could get to Pakistan at all?”
“I respect you,” Cooper interrupted. “And I respect, certainly, your service to this country, but where do you get your information? Because that — that — what you have just said is factually incorrect.”
“Sir, he traveled to Pakistan in 1981, and — when he was a student. And — and, actually, Americans could travel to Pakistan then,” Cooper added.
“In fact, I — we have an article from The New York Times from 1981 from the travel section about the joys of traveling in Pakistan. You needed a — American citizens, I think they needed a 30-day visa, but American citizens could go and travel in Pakistan. That’s just an Internet rumor that you’re spreading,” he said.
“Sir, just, of the points you — of the points you have raised, the factual points to — I mean, you’re basing legislation on stuff that’s basically just rumors and stuff that’s been proven to be false,” Cooper noted.
Cooper has been praised for his calm and competent handling of Berman.
“Watching, it’s clear just how often exchanges like this don’t happen on cable television, which given it’s 24 hour cycle would suggest a luxury of time,” wrote Mediaite‘s Mark Joyella “And beyond that, Cooper’s preparations–so clearly his own and not fed by earpiece–prove he’s somebody who sets himself apart from talking point parrots who populate most other shows on cable.”
“This is a journalist doing his job, and doing it very, very well,” he concluded.
For their part, birthers have resurged in the past few weeks. Berman filed his bill requiring presidential candidates to produce a birth certificate.
Former Republican Congressman John LeBoutillier released a fictional book that he says uses “real things” like Obama’s grandmother once claimed she was present for his Kenyan birth.
On Monday, the Supreme Court Justices rejected a lawsuit that claimed Obama was not a US citizen because his father was a citizen of the British crown.
This video is from CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, broadcast Nov. 29, 2010.