The ‘non-issue’ raised by ‘birthers’

Do we have "birthers" seeking significant public office in South Dakota?

Officials of the state Democratic Party believe we do.

They have come to this conclusion after reviewing the responses of South Dakota's U.S. House candidates to a recent media inquiry about this issue.

The candidates were asked if they think President Obama was born in Hawaii, or someplace else. Here are the candidates' take on the "birther" question, as reported in Mt. Blogmore, a political blog of the Rapid City Journal:

Blake Curd:  "Hawaii's own Republican Governor has said President Obama was born there. That's good enough for me. What concerns me is the direction he and the Democrat-led Congress are taking our country. That's what I'm focused on. Conservatives should harness their energy towards electing fiscally responsible leaders who will fight reckless spending, our growing debt and higher taxes."

Chris Nelson: "Yes, meeting the constitutional qualifications to be President is a very important issue. If President Obama isn't constitutionally qualified, it would be the biggest scam ever perpetuated on the American people. MANY people contacted me as Secretary of State prior to and after the election asking how Obama could be on our ballot given this controversy. Absent a court finding that he isn't a natural born citizen, we have to take the certification from the National Democratic Convention at face value."

Press Secretary Betsy Hart, for Stephanie Herseth Sandlin:  "Rep. Herseth Sandlin believes that there is no question about where the president was born, and that we should focus instead on policy issues that affect South Dakota families every day, like creating jobs and cutting government spending."

Kristi Noem: "South Dakotans have many other important issues they are concerned with, such as jobs, energy, and the economy."

The South Dakota Democratic Party has jumped all over this, noting that both Nelson and Noem refused to say whether they believed President Obama was born in the United States. According to state Democrats,  they

"Frankly, it's shocking that two top candidates would align themselves with the fringe 'birther' movement," said Erin McCarrick, executive director of the SDDP.  "We don't know where Kristi Noem stands on this issue because she dodged the question. And it's particularly disturbing that Secretary of State Nelson – the man responsible for determining whether South Dakota candidates at all levels are qualified to appear on a ballot – is lending credence to such a ridiculous conspiracy theory about President Obama's qualifications."

It would be interesting to hear what you think. If you wish to weigh in on this topic, you can respond by calling up this column our website,, and writing something in the comment section that appears under this column when you call it up on your computer.

We simply hope that this doesn't suddenly become an issue in the U.S. House race here. We aren't going to cast judgment specifically on the responses by the candidates above – we reason those who gave rather vague or confusing answers to the "birther" question will have plenty of time to explain themselves.

We are also of the opinion that anyone – whether or not they are running for political office – who believes that Obama is somehow not qualified to be president because he was born in Kenya or Katmandu, or, well, fill in the blank – is having a difficult time getting a grasp on reality.

We are assured, despite the attempts of folks like Liz Cheney and Lou Dobbs to cast doubt on Obama's citizenship, that he indeed was born in Hawaii, he is an American citizen, and he is qualified to be president.

It's really silly to be even talking about this. By the time we go to the polls this November, the president will have nearly completed half of his first term.

We hope all candidates seeking office in South Dakota will focus on what's important to our state as they campaign. We hope the 'birther' issue doesn't become part of the rhetoric we all will be hearing soon.

There's an easy way for candidates to keep that from happening. They need to simply dismiss this issue outright, and treat it in the proper context – as a silly "conspiracy" dreamed up by too many people who have too much time on their hands.

We have much more important things to talk about as Election Day nears.

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