Political observers are wondering whether Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is a "birther" following the release of an audio tape in which Cuccinelli says that the claims that President Barack Obama was born outside the US are "within the realm of possibility."
In a question-and-answer session, audio of which was obtained by the Virginia blog Not Larry Sabato, Cuccinelli outlines a strategy for how Obama's citizenship can be challenged in the courts.
(Audio follows below.)
"What can we do about Obama and the birth certificate thing?" an unidentified questioner asks.
"It'll get tested in my view when he signs a law and someone is convicted of violating it, and one of their defenses will be it's not a law if someone qualified to be president isn't signing it," Cuccinelli is heard saying.
"Is that something you can do as attorney general, can you ... do that or something?" the questioner asks.
"Well, only if there's a conflict where we're suing the federal government for a law they've passed," Cuccinelli replies. "So it's possible."
Cuccinelli then mentions that, in order to challenge the president's birth certificate, someone will have to step up with "proof" the president was not born in Hawaii in 1961, as his birth certificate states.
"Someone's going to have to come forward with nailed-down testimony that he was born in Place B, wherever that is. The speculation is Kenya," Cuccinelli said. "And that doesn't seem beyond the realm of possibility."
It's unclear at what event Cuccinelli was speaking in that recording. The Not Larry Sabato blog says it is their "understanding" the tape was recorded when Cucinelli was attorney general-elect, before he took office in January of this year. But the blog won't release details, saying it would compromise the identity of the person who provided the tape on condition of anonymity.
Since taking office, Cuccinelli has made headlines by following a socially conservative path that some observers say strays from the path he and his Republican allies had promised voters in recent elections.
Earlier this month, Cuccinelli sent a letter to the state's public universities and colleges telling them that they can't protect gay students from discrimination in their anti-discrimination policies, because Virginia as a whole doesn't have such a policy.
Gov. Bob McDonnell had initially refused to extend an eight-year-old executive decree protection gays. But a few days after Cuccinelli's letter, perhaps stung by criticism, McDonnell announced he would not take action against schools that don't rescind their protections for gay students. And in a surprising turnaround, the governor extended anti-discrimination policies to gay state workers.
Last month, Cuccinelli joined the state of Texas and the US Chamber of Commerce in taking the EPA to court over its classification of carbon dioxide as a health threat, a move that has been harshly criticized by environmental advocates. Cuccinelli has also declared that he supports an effort to de-fund Planned Parenthood in Virginia.
The following audio was posted to YouTube by the Not Larry Sabato blog, March 15, 2010.