In an effort to finally put to rest questions about where he was born, the White House on Wednesday released President Obama's long-form birth certificate. (seen above)
Mr. Obama even made an impromptu appearance in the White House briefing room to urge the press and American citizens to drop the issue and focus on the nation's real problems.
"We're not going to be able to solve our problems if we get distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers," Mr. Obama said. "We've got some enormous challenges out there. There are a lot of folks out there still looking for work... We do not have time for this kind of silliness."
Mr. Obama had in 2008 released on the Internet his "certificate of live birth" -- a short-form birth certificate provided to all Hawaiians as proof of birth in state -- but that failed to quell rumors that the president was born outside of the U.S. (see the "certificate of live birth" posted below)
Those rumors were brought back into the forefront of discussion in recent weeks thanks to questions from Donald Trump, a potential 2012 Republican presidential contender, who has said he isof the president's origins. A recent showed that one in four Americans incorrectly believe Mr. Obama was born outside of the United States.
The White House today said it took the effort to release Mr. Obama's long-form birth certificate so that the nation can move on from this "fake issue."
"At a time of great consequence for this country - when we should be debating how we win the future, reduce our deficit, deal with high gas prices, and bring stability to the Middle East, Washington, DC, was once again distracted by a fake issue," White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer wrote on the White House blog. "The President's hope is that with this step, we can move on to debating the bigger issues that matter to the American people and the future of the country."
Mr. Obama said in the briefing room today that he normally wouldn't comment on an issue like this. Yet he noted that in the past few weeks, "the Republican house pout forward a budget that will have huge consequences and... I gave a speech about my budget and how we need to invest in education and infrastructure." Yet the dominant news story "was about my birth certificate."
The president said he's confident the nation can come together to solve its problems, but "we're not going to be able to do it if we spend time vilifying each other... if we just make stuff up and pretend facts are not facts."
As the White House continued to receive requests for the president's birth certificate, Mr. Obama finally directed his legal counsel to ask the Hawaii State Department of Health to break their protocol and release his long-form birth certificate. According to the White House, the state granted the exception in part because of the tremendous volume of requests they had been getting.
The White House today also handed out to reporters in the press briefing room copies of Mr. Obama's birth certificate.
"The President believed the distraction over his birth certificate wasn't good for the country," Pfeiffer wrote. "It may have been good politics and good TV, but it was bad for the American people and distracting from the many challenges we face as a country."
At a press conference in New Hampshire today, Trump boasted that he was able to compel Mr. Obama to release his long-form birth certificate when no one else could.
"I feel I've accomplished something really, really important, and I'm honored by it," he said. "You have to ask the president, why didn't he do it a long time ago?"
He added that "now we can talk about oil, we can talk about gasoline prices, we can talk about China ripping off this country."
Even so, Trump expressed skepticism about this latest birth certificate.
"It is rather amazing that it all of a sudden materializes," he said. "A lot of people have to look at it, experts will look at it."At left: CBS News' Bob Schieffer, Chip Reid and Bill Plante discuss the timing and reasoning behind the White House's decision to release President Obama's birth certificate
As Pfeiffer explained on the White House blog, the matter should have been put to rest back in 2008, when Mr. Obama released his short-form "certificate of birth" because it is the standard Hawaiian birth certificate.
"The document posted on the campaign website is what Hawaiians use to get a driver's license from the state and the document recognized by the Federal Government and the courts for all legal purposes," he wrote. "That's because it is the birth certificate. This is not and should not be an open question."
Along with Trump, a couple other potential 2012 GOP presidential candidates reacted to the White House release via Twitter.
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin tweeted, "Media: admit it, Trump forced the issue. Now, don't let the WH distract you w/the birth crt from what Bernanke says today. Stay focused, eh?"
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney tweeted, "What President Obama should really be releasing is a jobs plan."