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Perry doesn't know whether Obama's birth certificate is real

October 25, 2011 | 10:53 am

Rick Perry

First John Boehner, now Rick Perry.

In February the speaker of the House said he was willing to accept that President Obama was a U.S. citizen but added that "the American people have the right to think what they want to think. I can't -- it's not my job to tell them." He also said he would take Obama "at his word" that he was a Christian -- implying that Obama was the only authority for that proposition. Overall, Boehner's comments managed to encourage "birthers" even even as they seemed to accept that Obama was a native-born Christian.

Flash forward to the 2012 presidential campaign. In an interview with Parade magazine. Gov. Rick Perry engaged in Boehner-like equivocation about whether Obama's birth certificate is real. "I don't know, " Perry said. "I had dinner with Donald Trump the other night .... He doesn't think it's real .... I don't have any idea. It doesn't matter. [Obama is] the president of the United States. He's elected. It's a distractive issue."

Like Boehner, Perry was accepting Obama's citizenship while raising doubts about it. If he really thought it was a "distractive" issue, he would have said: "I believe the president is an American citizen. End of story." That he provided a quibbling answer instead suggests that he may think there's still a "birther" constituency out there -- a depressing thought.

RELATED:

Goodbye 'birthers,' hello 'deathers'

Perry revived 'birther' issue to 'poke' at Obama

Obama closes one 'birther' chapter. Will another open?

-- Michael McGough

Photo: Texas Gov. Rick Perry at a GOP candidates debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley on Sept. 7. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

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