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Rick Perry likes poking Obama with birther stick

HANOVER, NH - OCTOBER 11: Republican presidential candidate and incumbent Texas Gov. Rick Perry prepares for a presidential debate sponsored by Bloomberg and The Washington Post held at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2011. The event moderated by U.S. television talk show host Charlie Rose and featuring eight Republican candidates, presents the first debate of the 2012 political season focused solely on the economy. (Photo by Scott Eells-Pool/Getty Images) Scott Eells-Pool/Getty Images

Rick Perry has an uphill climb if he wants to face-off with President Obama in 2012. In the CBS News/New York Times poll released Tuesday, the Texas governor garnered 6 percent of likely Republican primary voters, down from 12 percent in early October and 23 percent in mid-September. Herman Cain led the pack with 25 percent, followed by Mitt Romeny with 21 percent. Even Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich had a better showing than Perry.

Perry hopes to reverse his downward slide with a fresh economic plan, calling for an optional 20 percent flat tax, privatized social security accounts for younger citizens and an 18-percent cap on federal spending as a percentage of U.S. GDP.

At the same time Perry is making a serious economic proposal to help overcome his lackluster debate performances and evaporating poll numbers, he is playing with the birther card. In an interview with Parade magazine, Perry said he cannot know for certain whether Mr. Obama was born in the U.S.

"I don't have a definitive answer, because he's never seen my birth certificate," Perry said. What his birth certificate has to do with the subject isn't clear.

In an interview Tuesday with CNBC's John Harwood, Perry told him that he is having fun with the Obama birther controversy.  

"It's a good issue to keep alive. You know, Donald [Trump] has got to have some fun. It's fun to poke him a little bit and say "Hey, let's see your grades and your birth certificate." I don't have a clue about where the president -- and what this birth certificate says. But it's also a great distraction. I'm not distracted by it," Perry said. 

If Perry wants to vault over Cain and Romney for the GOP nomination in the coming months, poking Mr. Obama with the birther stick won't do much to help him gain the credibility he needs as a presidential candidate who will appeal to the mainstream.

As George W. Bush's chief strategist Karl Rove said of his fellow Republican,"You associate yourself with a nutty view like that and you damage yourself."