- Associated Press - Sunday, January 23, 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) — The new Republican House majority leader on Sunday said he doesn’t think questions about President Obama’s citizenship should play a role in the discussion of policy matters.

Two years into the Obama administration, so-called “birthers” continue to argue that Mr. Obama isn’t a natural-born citizen and that he hasn’t proved he’s constitutionally qualified to be president. Birth records in Hawaii haven’t dissuaded them.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican, said he believes that Mr. Obama is a citizen and that most Americans are beyond that question.

“I don’t think it’s an issue that we need to address at all. … It is not an issue that even needs to be on the policy-making table right now whatsoever,” he said.

Appearing Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Mr. Cantor refused to call people who question Mr. Obama’s citizenship “crazy.”

“I don’t think it’s nice to call anyone crazy,” Mr. Cantor said.

Mr. Cantor said he believes that Obama wants what’s best for the country and that there are honest disagreements over how to achieve that.

Birthers say there’s no proof Mr. Obama was born in the United States; many of these skeptics question whether he actually was born in Kenya, his father’s home country.

Hawaii’s health director said in 2008 and 2009 that she had seen and verified Mr. Obama’s original vital records, and birth notices in two Honolulu newspapers were published within days of Mr. Obama’s birth at Kapiolani Maternity and Gynecological Hospital in Honolulu.

Health Department spokeswoman Janice Okubo again confirmed on Friday that Mr. Obama’s name is found in its alphabetical list of names of people born in Hawaii, maintained in bound copies available for public view.

Hawaii’s Democratic governor, Neil Abercrombie, who was a friend of Mr. Obama’s parents and knew him as a child, began an effort last month to find a way to dispel conspiracy theories that the president was born elsewhere. The governor said he was bothered by people who questioned Mr. Obama’s birthplace for political reasons.

But Mr. Abercrombie’s office said Friday that he was ending his quest because it’s against state law to release private documents. The state’s attorney general told the governor he can’t disclose an individual’s birth documentation without a person’s consent.

The Obama campaign issued a certificate of live birth in 2008, an official document from the state showing the president’s birth date, city and name, along with his parents’ names and races.

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