President Barack Obama dismissed conspiracy theorists, known as “birthers,” who have recently been brought back into the media spotlight by billionaire real estate mogul and television celebrity Donald Trump.
During an interview with ABC News Chief Political Correspondent George Stephanopoulos on Thursday, Obama suggested the majority of Americans would not take Trump’s doubts that the president is a natural born citizen seriously.
“I think that over the last two and a half years there’s been an effort to go at me in a way that is politically expedient in the short-term for Republicans,” the president said. “But it creates, I think a problem for them when they want to actually run in a general election where most people feel pretty confident the President was born where he says he was, in Hawaii.”
Trump has been courting the media’s attention by questioning Obama’s eligibility for president. He first revealed he had some doubts that Obama was a U.S. citizen during an interview with ABC News’ Ashleigh Banfield in March.
Trump, a potential Republican presidential candidate, has blamed the media for marginalizing “birthers,” noting that “they got labeled so negatively and even the word ‘birther’ is a negative word.”
Obama said that the vast majority of Americans, whether Democrat or Republican, want the upcoming presidential election to be about the economy.
“My suspicion is that anybody who is not addressing those questions is going to be in trouble,” he said. “I think they may get a quick pop in the news. They may get a lot of attention. But ultimately, the American people understand this is a serious, sober time.”
Many “birthers,” such as American Independent Party presidential candidate Alan Keyes, believe there is persuasive evidence that Obama was born in Kenya in 1961 and that his birth certificate was faked in order to make him eligible for the Presidency.
A lawsuit by Keyes that claimed Obama is not eligible to occupy the White House because he is not a natural born citizen was thrown out by the Third District Court of Appeals in October. Last year, a district court judge dismissed a similar lawsuit filed by Orly Taitz, who was fined $20,000 for “wasting judicial resources” with her “frivolous” lawsuits.
The president was born in the Hawaii and released a certificate of live birth to prove it in June 2008