CONCORD, N.H. — President Obama is on the Democratic ballot for New Hampshire’s primary on Tuesday, despite the efforts of some Republican state legislators who argue the president doesn’t qualify as a “natural-born citizen.”
“I don’t know where he was born, and I really don’t care,” said state Rep. Larry Rappaport of Colebrook, N.H., “but I think fraud is being perpetrated on the citizens of New Hampshire.”
Mr. Rappaport and several GOP colleagues have been trying to get the New Hampshire secretary of state to remove Mr. Obama from the ballot. Their argument isn’t focused on the old question of the president’s birthplace, but on a clause in the U.S. Constitution that requires a candidate to be a “natural-born citizen.”
The Republican legislators and their supporters say Mr. Obama doesn’t meet the definition of “natural-born citizen” because his father was Kenyan. They are relying on an 1875 Supreme Court decision that said a natural-born citizen is someone whose parents are both U.S. citizens at the time of his or her birth.
After the legislators’ complaint was rejected by the New Hampshire’s Ballot Law Commission, Mr. Rappaport and his colleagues filed an affidavit last week with the state attorney general to argue that the state isn’t applying election law consistently. But the attorney general’s office said it doesn’t intend to take any action.
State Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley attended a press conference held by the Republican legislators last week and described himself as perplexed.
“Since I didn’t have my tin-foil hat with me, I really didn’t understand what they were talking about,” Mr. Buckley said. “The shocking thing isn’t that there are people out there who fervently believe such nonsense, but that these people are elected officials.”
Mr. Rappaport is working on the matter with California attorney Orly Taitz, who is pursuing a similar complaint in Georgia state courts. In that case, a judge last week denied a motion by the Obama administration to have one of Ms. Taitz’s challenges to the president’s ballot eligibility dismissed.
“Thank you God!!!” she wrote on her website after the ruling. “I can now depose Obama and everybody else involved without any impediment.”
A hearing on the complaint in Georgia is set for Jan. 26 in Fulton County.
The White House released Mr. Obama’s original birth certificate in April in an effort to dispel persistent questions about his birthplace. The document showed that Mr. Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, on Aug. 4, 1961.
Although he doesn’t call himself a “birther,” Mr. Rappaport doesn’t believe the validity of the president’s birth certificate.
“If I were asked to make a forgery, I could do a better job,” Mr. Rappaport said. “I don’t consider that a birth certificate at all.”
The legislator denied he is motivated by partisan politics.
“If this guy were a Republican, I would still be doing the same thing,” he said.
Mr. Buckley said GOP presidential candidates such as Mitt Romney and Ron Paul should be discouraging their supporters in the state legislature from engaging in the effort to question Mr. Obama’s citizenship.
“On the one hand, it’s hard to take it seriously,” Mr. Buckley said. “But they ought to be focusing on jobs and the economy and the things real Americans care about.”
The New Hampshire Secretary of State Office said it doesn’t have the authority to remove a candidate from the ballot for the citizenship question. But the state legislators cite two cases from 2007 and 2011 in which candidates were told by the secretary of state they had to be natural-born citizens to be on the ballot.
Although the GOP legislators appear to have lost their argument for removing Mr. Obama from the primary ballot, Mr. Rappaport said he intends to pursue their quest through the general election.