OVERLAND PARK — Republican Kris Kobach, a candidate for Kansas secretary of state who's already part of the national immigration debate, says President Obama would resolve questions about his citizenship by producing a detailed birth certificate.
A spokesman for Kobach, a law professor who helped write Arizona's new immigration law, said Friday that Kobach gets questions about the issue regularly. Kobach's latest remarks came Thursday evening, when he responded to a question during an event at an Overland Park retirement community.
Similar comments brought criticism for Tracey Mann, a Republican running in the 1st Congressional District of western and central Kansas. Two newspapers withdrew their endorsements of him this week.
The White House declined to comment Friday but has long dismissed claims Obama was born outside the United States and is therefore ineligible to be president. Obama's fellow Democrats — and many Republicans — view it as a non-issue.
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Hawaii officials have repeatedly confirmed Obama's birth in their state. Last year, a federal judge in Washington threw out a lawsuit on the issue, saying it was a waste of the court's time.
But Kobach said Obama could end the controversy by producing a "long-form" birth certificate. Obama's presidential campaign posted a certificate on its website from the state of Hawaii, listing his name, his parents' names and the date and place of birth.
"It doesn't have a doctor's signature on it," Kobach said Thursday evening. "Look, until a court says otherwise, I'm willing to accept that he's a natural U.S. citizen. But I think it is a fair question: Why just not produce the long-form birth certificate?"
Kobach faces two opponents for the GOP nomination for secretary of state. Six Republicans are running in the 1st District, and Mann is one of four considered to have a good chance of winning. The state's primary is Aug. 3.
Spokesman Ben Davis said Kobach isn't a "birther," as those who doubt Obama's citizenship are commonly called, but has been getting questions for months, at almost every event.
"It's not just a small segment of the public," Davis said.
Kobach's critics already portray him as an extremist over his role in the new Arizona law, directing law enforcement officers to check the legal status of people they stop for other reasons. He's also served as a legal consultant to city officials and state legislators wanting to crack down on illegal immigration.
Last year, the Kansas Democratic Party criticized Kobach after he joked at a GOP barbecue that Obama and God had something in common because neither has a birth certificate.
Kenny Johnston, the Kansas Democrats' executive director, said Kobach tries to gloss over extreme views.
"I'm sure Mr. Kobach's clients accept that he is a lawyer without him producing the results from his bar exam," Johnston said.
Mann answered questions about the issue in two recent appearances.
The first was a forum in Elkhart, in the state's far southwestern corner, which was filmed by an attendee. Mann said Obama should show his birth certificate to "resolve it one way or another."
In a program Tuesday on Salina radio station KSAL, Mann said: "I think the president of the United States needs to come forth with his papers and show everyone that he's an American citizen and put this issue to bed once and for all."
The Hutchinson News and Salina Journal withdrew their endorsements of Mann afterward. The other three leading GOP candidates, state Sens. Jim Barnett and Tim Huelskamp and former congressional aide Rob Wasinger, said they don't question Obama's citizenship but his policies.
Mann's campaign did not respond to a telephone message and e-mail Friday from AP, but his spokesman told the Salina paper Mann "misspoke" on the radio and doesn't doubt Obama's citizenship.