Republican leaders distanced themselves from the White House’s release of President Obama’s birth certificate Wednesday, calling it a “sideshow” and a “distraction” and knocked the administration for releasing it.
“I have criticized members of my own party for making this some kind of issue so I’m really surprised that the White House is actually doing the same,” said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a morning interview on Fox News shortly after the White House unveiled the document. “We’ve got a lot of things swirling right now. You’ve got gas prices over four dollars a gallon. You’ve got over $14 trillion in debt in this country we’re trying to deal with. You’ve got unemployment that’s still stuck up around nine percent. How in the world is this the issue we ought to be reporting on?”
Republicans prepared an agenda for the upcoming congressional session that begins Monday that includes hearings and floor votes focused on rising gas prices — an issue they think they can win on — and Wednesday’s document unveiling could throw a wrench in the GOP wheel.
The conspiracy theories swirling around the origin of Obama’s birth reached a fever pitch this month, after a campaign led by millionaire entrepreneur Donald Trump led to talk shows and news outlets discussing the issue, which has been settled for years.
The document may be driving the news cycle today, but for Republican leaders, the “birther” issue seems to be the last thing they want to talk about.
“This has long been a settled issue,” said Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner. “The Speaker’s focus is on cutting spending, lowering gas prices, and creating American jobs.”