A 60-Second History Of The "Birther" Movement

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The will-they-or-won’t-they saga over the release of Obama’s Hawaiian birth certificate has thrown the so-called “birther” movement back into the national spotlight. A thriving group of conspiracy theorists, lawyers and conservative politicians, the “birthers” believe the President is not a U.S. citizen, despite some pretty strong evidence to the contrary.

“Birthers” vary in their arguments, but all reject Obama’s presidency as illegitimate.

rumours about Obama's birth certificate start circulating towards the end of the 2008 Democratic primaries, helped along by PUMA, a small but vocal group of Hillary supporters who refuse to accept Obama's primary victory. Among the rumours: Obama was born in Kenya and his middle name is really Muhammad.

Source: The National Review, Boston Globe

JUNE 2008: Obama tries to dispell myths about his origins.

The Obama campaign releases a 'certificate of live birth' to quell rumours about the Democratic candidate's U.S. citizenship. 'Birthers' claim the document is a fake.

Source: Slate

Pennsylvania attorney Phil Berg, a PUMA and former 9/11 'Truther,' files a lawsuit with the U.S. Supreme Court, claiming Obama was secretly born in Kenya and seeking an injunction to suspend the 2008 presidential election. The Supreme Court declines to hear the case.

Source: Law.com

Ms. Taitz, a Southern California dentist with an online law degree, becomes the public face of the 'birther' movement. Taitz files a federal lawsuit questioning Obama's presidential eligibility on behalf of conservative Alan Keyes, who lost the Illinois U.S. Senate race to Obama in 2004. The case is still winding its way through the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Source: Politico, LA Times, OC Weekly

Pundits across the political spectrum dismiss the 'birthers' as nutjobs and conspiracy theorists. Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank calls the theories 'hysteria.'

Source: Washington Post

Undeterred, the Arizona House of Representatives votes in favour of a measure that would require presidential candidates to submit documents proving they were born in the U.S. Similar bills are introduced in state legislatures in Oklahoma, Tennessee, Missouri and Texas.

Source: KSAZ, Wikipedia

AUGUST 2010: More than a quarter of Americans doubt the President was born in the U.S.

A CNN poll, released on the President's 49th birthday, indicates that more than 25% of the American public question Obama's citizenship. Of those polled, 11 per cent say Obama is definitely not born in the U.S. and 16 per cent say he was 'probably not' born in the country.

Source: CNN

DECEMBER 2010: Hawaii Governor vows to prove Obama's citizenship but can't find the birth certificate.

Neil Abercrombie, Hawaii's newly elected governor, brings the 'birther' movement back into the national media spotlight by promising to produce Obama's original birth certificate. Abercrombie, a Democrat who knew Obama's parents, says the President's birth is recorded in the state's archives but no birth certificate materialises.

Source: LA Times, ABC

JANUARY 2011: Hawaii AG says it is illegal to release Obama's birth certificate.

State Attorney General David Louie tells Abercrombie that Hawaii's privacy laws prohibit the disclosure of an individual's birth records with consent. The state health department confirms that Obama's name is on its list of people born in Hawaii.

Source: AP

After months of silence on the 'birther' conspiracy, press secretary Robert Gibbs takes another swing at the 'birthers,' saying that 'rational people' have long since concluded that Obama is a U.S. citizen.

Source: Politico

The 'birthers' have redoubled efforts to prove Obama is ineligible for the office, fuelled by claims that Abercrombie cannot find the birth certificate. On his talk radio show last week, Rush Limbaugh lent credibility to the movement with a segment that pondered whether or not the President is actually a foreigner.

A political movement is born...

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