Updated: 1:55 p.m. ET
Despite President Obama's initial hesitation to dignify the "birther" question, his 2012 campaign team is ready to capitalize - both politically and financially - on doubts about his U.S. citizenship.
Earlier this year, Mr. Obamafrom "birthers" (a contingent of Americans - including Donald Trump - who expressed skepticism about his Hawaiian origins) to release his long-form birth certificate as proof that he was, in fact, born in the United States. At the time, however, the president condemned "sideshows and carnival barkers" for distracting the American public with "silliness" rather than focusing on substantive issues.
Now, Mr. Obama's 2012 presidential campaign is poking fun at the issue, and inviting supporters to get in on the joke - for just $25 or more.
"Obama for America," the president's campaign arm, is offering t-shirts that play on the questions surrounding his citizenship. The front of the shirts feature a picture of the president, under which reads the line "Made in the USA." The back depicts a copy of the president's long-form birth certificate. ("Made in America" mugs are also available for purchase.)
"Wear your support for this campaign with an official Made in the USA T-shirt. Donate $25 or more today and we'll send you your limited-edition shirt," the website advertises on the donation page.
Julianna Smoot, the Obama 2012 deputy campaign manager, explained the paraphernalia in an email: "There's really no way to make this stuff completely go away," she said. "The only thing we can do is laugh at it -- and make sure as many other people as possible are in on the joke."
Citing a new birther-inspired book called "Where's the Birth Certificate?", Smoot - who describes the book as "a greatest-hits reel of delusions, ranging from 9/11 conspiracies to claiming that there is an infinite supply of oil in the Earth's core" -argues that the best way for the Obama campaign to effectively combat the misinformation is to joke about it.
"Last year, the President said, 'I can't spend all of my time with my birth certificate plastered on my forehead.' This is about as close as we can get," she said. "If the facts can't make these ridiculous smears go away, we can at least have a little fun with it."