Shortly after Hassan made the request, the FEC signaled that it would decide the technicalities of filing requirements while leaving the broader issue of who can run for president to the judicial branch. In an email to Hassan on July 18, the FEC stated that he understood “that although the Commission can respond to the questions asked in [his] advisory opinion, the Commission cannot make any determination as to whether [Hassan] can, as a naturalized citizen, serve as President.”
The issue was made more contentious by comments and Internet postings by citizens, Tea Party advocates and “birthers,” who continue to press long-refuted claims that President Barack Obama was not born in America. About a dozen of these individuals wrote letters to the FEC stating that Hassan should not be allowed to run for president.
In the face of this opposition, Hassan said before the vote that he believed that the FEC was making the decision in good faith based on the facts. But he added that it would be hard for commissioners not to be “influenced by the political sensitivity of the issue.”
Hassan told Roll Call that his candidacy is not a stunt but rather an effort by a “political junkie” with various legislative interests. “I follow politics closely, but I have never held elected office,” he said. “I would admit that I am not well-known, and I would admit that my chances of winning are not as good as other candidates. That’s obvious.”
Terri Henderson, 6, center, whose mother is El Salvador, attends a rally with members of Congress at Union Station's Columbus Circle to announce the Restore Opportunity, Strengthen, and Improve the Economy (ROSIE) Act on July 29, 2014. The legislation provides incentives for government contractors to pay a living wage and other benefits that would help low-income workers.