The White House on Thursday confirmed receipt of a letter from U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal that formally asks Barack Obama to address questions about his place of birth – and thus, whether he is qualified to be president.
The letter arrived Dec. 10. Beyond that, no one is willing to say much.
According to my AJC colleague Bob Keefe in Washington, Todd Smith, Deal’s chief of staff, likewise confirmed that the letter had been sent. But neither Smith nor his boss would comment on its content.
“[Deal] just did what he said he was going to do,” Smith said. “It’s not news.”
Likewise, White House spokeswoman Gannet Tseggai – while acknowledging receipt of Deal’s letter, declined to release a copy or discuss its content, saying that the issue of Obama’s birth has been addressed repeatedly.
In June 2008, Obama’s campaign office released a digitally scanned image of his birth certificate — a “certification of live birth” — that shows he was born in Honolulu, Hawaii on Aug. 4, 1961. Government officials in Hawaii have verified that the document is official, as have several news organizations.
Nonetheless, Deal – a Republican candidate for governor — said in November he would ask the president to prove he was an American-born citizen and therefore legally serving as president.
In an interview at the time, Deal said he has “no reason to think” that Obama is not a legal citizen – but added that questions raised by so-called “birthers” about Obama’s nationality warrant more proof.
“I have looked at the documentation that is publicly available and it leaves many things to be desired,” Deal said in November.
After declining to respond to numerous phone calls and e-mails seeking comment, Smith finally addressed the letter during a brief interview at Deal’s Washington office on Thursday.
He declined to provide a copy, saying it was out of deference to the president.
Late Thursday, Deal became one of the first Republican candidates for governor to release his final fund-raising figures for 2009, declaring that he raised over $1.8 million during the year.
Over 1,800 of the 2,150 contributions came from individuals, his campaign reported.
The largest part of Deal’s contributions, about $900,000, came in the first six months of 2009. He raised about $550,000 in the second half. The north Georgia congressman also tossed in a personal loan of $250,000.
Former Gov. Roy Barnes, a Democrat, on Thursday announced that he had raised $2.7 million. Cash raised is one measure of a candidate’s viability, but one Democratic rival, House Minority Leader DuBose Porter, was out to play down any comparison with this assessment of Barnes’ achievement:
“No one has ever questioned his ability to raise money. While he has been dialing for dollars, I have been out working and listening to the voices of the people. I have been asking Georgians for their concerns while he has been asking for their cash. We have already seen what happened between a big money versus a grassroots campaign and I have chosen to run a grassroots campaign.”
Here’s an odd pairing: Every Republican with an e-mail account is now calling for final negotiations over health care reform to be public – televised on C-SPAN as promised by presidential candidate Barack Obama.
Such an important policy debate should be conducted in the open, they say. It is a convincing argument.
In an order signed this week, a federal judge declared that negotiations over water among the GOP governors of Georgia, Florida, and Alabama should be conducted in secret. “A settlement of such a complicated and inflammatory case such as this can occur only if some negotiations, whether among all parties or among only some of the parties, are conducted privately,” U.S. District Court Judge Paul Magnuson wrote.
We await the storm of protest that’s certain to come.
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