Ready to climb aboard the Birther Train? KGUN9 viewers spout off
Notes by: Forrest Carr, KGUN9 News Director
If there is one thing politicians, especially in Arizona, love to do, it's to energetically punch the buttons on hot button issues. Right now one of the hottest of those is the rekindled Birther flap -- "Birther" being a word commonly used to describe people who don't believe Barack Obama, 44th president of the United States, is a U.S. citizen.
The issue died down for a while. But over the past few days two state leaders, Secretary of State Ken Bennett and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, have thrown their backs into the task of stoking coal on the Birther Train, which once again has a full head of steam up and is lurching, pitching and swaying down the track at breakneck speed.
Last week Bennett, who has no specific authority to do so under Arizona law, demanded that the state of Hawaii verify that President Obama was born there. In an interview with KGUN9 News in Sierra Vista on Friday, Bennett said that if Hawaii were to fail to comply with his request, removing Mr. Obama from the Arizona ballot is "possible." But he began retreating from that position almost immediately, softening his stance in interviews given to other local news media later the same day. The repositioning continued Tuesday, when Bennett sorta kinda apologized for the whole uproar in an interview with Phoenix radio station KTAR.
Meanwhile, Sheriff Joe has an investigator on the ground in Hawaii, trying to advance his investigation of the president's birth certificate. Arpaio is on record as saying that the evidence his team has uncovered to date strongly suggests that the document made available by the White House was tampered with in some way.
Bennett isn't ready to holler "fraud" just yet. He told KTAR that he believes Mr. Obama was indeed born in Hawaii. But Bennett doesn't see anything wrong with just askin' a few questions -- and said he's willing to seek the same verification from the home state of GOP contender Mitt Romney.
If you're wondering whether some hidden agenda might be motivating all this, you can relax. True, Bennett is trying to help the Republicans run Mr. Obama out of office. In fact, Bennett is the co-chairman of GOP contender Mitt Romney's Arizona campaign. But Bennett assured the Arizona Republic on Monday that his campaign activities present no conflict with his duties as Secretary of State. So, you can rest easy about that. Of course, it's also true that Bennett was quoted saying just the opposite about such conflicts in 2010. But that was then.
In making his apology on Tuesday, Bennett still found a way to throw Mr. Obama under the Birther Train. Bennett released hundreds of emails from the public demanding proof of the president's citizenship -- a move you might call the "1,200 angry Arizonans can't be wrong" defense.
KGUN9 News has been getting public comments, too, but the resulting Facebook debate has been a bit more balanced. True, many of those posting are fully aboard the Birther Train and are pulling gleefully on the steam whistle. But plenty of others are not on the train or anywhere near the station. Below is a sample.
Deb Colehour -- "Boot him."
Connie G Scammell -- "I say boot all the ignorami from this state.... They embarrass us."
Billy McCoy -- "Kick him off."
Lisa Goossens -- "Boot him out of the country."
John Petroshus -- "We are the laughing stock of the country. Can't get any worse."
Yvonne Croswell -- "Yes John, it could get worse. We could be in Chicago where two of the most recent governors are serving prison sentences right now. And the one in office now is doing some really shifty stuff. Glad to be here. We'll work this out."
Ashley Lludwymaes -- "Deport him to Kenya!"
Lisa Smith -- "Deport him to Kenya? Whoever said racism is dead in America is wrong. And I totally agree with John P. As a state we are ridiculous."
Bradley J. Crane -- "He is a fraud to begin with. Should have been done four years ago."
Emmy Basch -- "Good grief. Give this a rest. We've been down this road a hundred times. He's a citizen. It's been proven. NEXT??"
Cathy Cerezo -- "Just drop it already."
Jay Beards -- "How difficult can it be? I can get mine out of the filing cabinet in 30 seconds. And not spend millions in taxpayer funds fighting it."
Valerie Kerby -- "No we can't let it go!!! That certificate is bogus and he is not an American!!!! I want an AMERICAN President, a real one!!!"
Pamela Scaife -- "I say if they can't prove, remove!"
Michael Murphy -- "Just what are they hiding? Show it. It's that EASY."
Hector Moreno -- "The certificate is on the White House website. The argument that it's edited is invalid, because all I've seen are people who have no computer or graphical experience say it's an edit. I've seen it myself and I can tell you that there are no edits to the PDF file that the White House put out."
Anne Fry Hector -- "You need to read up on graphic programs. Anything can be edited."
Bj Jeffrey -- "Do you all really think that Sen. John McCain [President Obama's opponent in 2008] DIDN'T check it out???? Quit grasping at straws. He is an American citizen. You don't have to like it and you don't have to like him. But give his birth certificate a REST!!!!!"
Monica Murguia -- "Everybody needs to shut up on hating our President! Obama rocks and is a wonderful family man. More men should practice his ethics!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
Paula Ingalls Lyford - "This is just wrong! If the Federal Government believes he is a legal citizen, then this is NUTZ! Come on, it just has to stop. It's another crazy attempt to blow him out of office. If you don't want him in office, Vote Him Out!"
Donna Owen -- "Ugh! I'd like to boot the Arizona Secretary of State out of his office. Moron!"
Virginia Parmer - "If he had nothing to hide, why did it take almost a year to provide a birth certificate? I got my son's in a week.... We need to be very careful in this country because many foreigners come here to give birth then go back."
KGUN9 News will explore this issue further on Tuesday night's 10pm newscast. Join in: add your comment here or on our Facebook page.