Republicans have repeatedly used the question of Obama's birth certificate to cast doubt on his citizenship — a false rumor that began going viral during the 2008 presidential election and one which continues today.
"Normally I would not comment on something like this. ... I've got other things to do," Obama told reporters in brief remarks Wednesday morning. The president said that for the past several years as questions surrounding his birth certificate arose, he has "watched with amusement" but also has been "puzzled at the degree to which this thing just kept on going."
The issue came to a head, he said, when news outlets spent so much time discussing his birth certificate instead of the budget debate a few weeks ago. He compared it to being distracted by "sideshows and carnival barkers."
"We do not have time for this kind of silliness," he said.
White House spokesman Dan Pfeiffer said in a statement posting a PDF to the long-form version proving Obama was born in Hawaii that while the birth certificate might make for good political theater, it is a distraction from critical issues.
"The President's hope is that with this step, we can move forward to debating the bigger issues that matter to the American people and the future of the country," Pfeiffer said.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus was the first to issue a political statement in response to the White House move.
"As I've repeatedly stated, this issue is a distraction," Priebus said. He said campaign politics surrounding Obama's citizenship have distracted the president from focusing on the economy.
Lois Lerner, director of exempt organizations for the IRS, arrives for a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the investigation of the IRS' targeting of political groups. Lerner invoked her Fifth Amendment right to not testify and caused a protest from some committee members when she offered an opening statement and engaged in dialogue with members before invoking the right.
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