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September 2, 2014, 12:48 am

Perry panders to debunked birthers

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is pandering to the far-right conservative fringe when he refuses to say whether he believes President Barack Obama was born in the United States.

At a news conference this week after he’s introduced a major economic plan, the GOP presidential candidate wouldn’t answer a reporter’s direct question about whether he believed the president was born in the United States. Obama’s birth certificate shows he was born in Hawaii.

Perry said the question was a distraction without acknowledging his role in fueling the distraction, including offering to release his own birth certificate.

The question comes on the heels of Perry’s interview with CNBC and the New York Times in which he said the birth certificate question was “a good issue to keep alive.”

In an interview with the New York Times, Perry was asked directly “Why did you choose to keep the birther issue alive?”

Perry response was revealing.

“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 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.”

However, if Perry wants to be viewed as a serious candidate he should not be emulate the likes of Donald Trump. 

Some Republican leaders, including Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, have criticized Perry’s birther comments as a needless distraction.

Perry is wrong to pander to the far right by raising the birther issue. Republican candidates should clearly and categorically reject the notion that Obama was not born in the United States.