"I’m not a birther. I believe the president was born in Hawaii — or at least I hope he was," Bennett told conservative talk radio show host Mike Broomfield of KFYI in Phoenix. "But my responsibility as secretary of state is to make sure the ballots in Arizona are correct and that those people whose names are on the ballot have met the qualifications for the office they are seeking."
The announcement stems from over 1,200 emails asking Bennett to look into whether or not Obama was actually born in Hawaii in 1961. Republican Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is the target of criminal proceedings by the Justice Department, prompted the letter-writing campaign when he ordered an investigation last year into President Obama’s birth certificate. Arpaio announced on Mar. 1, 2012, that the birth certificate is a fake. "I am not accusing the president of the United States of any crime,” Arpaio said. "We’re going to find out who did it."
Gov. Jan Brewer (R-AZ) called the birther movement a "huge distraction" on Apr. 25, 2011. "It's just something I believe is leading our country down a path of destruction and it just is not serving any good purpose," Brewer told CNN’s John King.
During the radio interview, Broomfield asked, "If they won’t comply, if they refuse to comply with this, will you remove the president from the ballot? Will you exclude him from the ballot?"
"That’s possible," Bennett answered. "Or the other option would be I would ask all of candidates, including the president, maybe to submit a certified copy of their birth certificate. But I don’t want to do that."
[UPDATE: May 23, 2012 - Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett announced that his office has confirmed the information on Obama's birth certificate.
"Late yesterday, our office received the 'verification in-lieu of certified copy' from officials within the Hawaii Department of Health that we requested in March,” Bennett said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon. "They have officially confirmed that the information in the copy of the Certificate of Live Birth for the President matches the original record in their files.”
"At the request of numerous constituents, I merely asked Hawaiian officials to verify the information contained within President Obama's original birth certificate," he said in the statement." They have complied with the request and I consider the matter closed." In an interview with Phoenix radio station KTAR, Bennett said, "If I embarrassed the state, I apologize, but that certainly wasn't my intent. He'll be on the ballot as long as he fills out the same paperwork and does the same things that everybody else has."]
Nick R. Martin, "Arizona Goes Birther: Secretary of State Says It’s ‘Possible’ Obama Won’t Be on Ballot," talkingpointsmemo.com, May 18, 2012
Nick R. Martin, "Bennett Backs Off Birther Threat, Apologizes To Arizona'" talkingpointsmemo.com, Mar. 22, 2012
Nick R. Martin, "Sheriff Joe Arpaio Claims Obama Birth Certificate a ‘Fraud'" talkingpointsmemo.com, Mar. 1, 2012
Rachel Weiner, "Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett Satisfied Obama was Born in United States,” www.washingtonpost.com, May 23, 2012
Tony Pierce, "Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer Says 'Birthers' Are 'Leading Our Country Down a Path of Destruction,'" latimes.com, Apr. 26, 2011
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