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Andy Harris on Obama's records: 'I don't know why they're being hidden'

You know how I said Orly Taitz doesn't matter but Republicans who trip up on "birther" conspiracies do? Here's an example -- one of the latest examples of the Democratic strategy to make every Republican candidate a Rand Paul or Sharron Angle.

On Tuesday, GOP congressional candidate Andy Harris, who's challenging Rep. Frank Kratovil (D-Md.) in a rematch, appeared on the Rip Rippons show and took questions from viewers. At one point, Rippons read an e-mail from a listener named "Corey."

RIPPONS: What is the timetable for a congressional investigation of President -- and he had that in parentheses -- Barack Obama not being born in this country, and his conceived, false citizenship?

HARRIS: You know, Corey, there are a lot of folks who will look at what happened with regard to that Hawaiian birth certificate and say, you know what, why isn’t all the truth coming out, or why are things being hidden? I don’t know why they're being hidden but I will tell you right now Barack Obama is our president. I think we have got to just realize that he's going to be the president until 2012 and if he isn’t doing the job that America thinks needs to be done, in 2012 we get to elect a new president. And that’s what we got to focus on. In 2010, we have to focus on electing a new Congress and in 2012 we have to focus on electing a new president.

Harris poured a little cold water on the "congressional investigation" question, but Democrats saw leeway given to people who doubt Obama's citizenship. And I'm constantly amazed at the number of Republicans who don't simply dismiss the question. But the Harris campaign is responding by saying that the candidate has no questions whatsoever about Obama's citizenship, and was grappling with questions -- possibly sent in by Democrats -- meant to nail him on fringe issues. Knowing that Democrats are doing this, I eventually expect Republicans to start answering this question with a "No, he was born here," and move on.

UPDATE: Jim Geraghty takes issue with this post.

Weigel says, “I’m constantly amazed at the number of Republicans who don’t simply dismiss the question”; the above words seem pretty dismissive as a whole. Perhaps a Republican candidate could respond to every question in this vein from, “what a stupid question, you jerk,” but it’s hard to blame a candidate for being polite and respectful even to voters who espouse outlandish theories.

Easy to say, but remember the case of Debra Medina. She was surging in the GOP primary for governor of Texas until Glenn Beck asked her point blank if she "believe[d] the government was in any way involved in the bringing down of the World Trade Centers on 9/11" and she didn't just say no.

Since the first months of this year, Democrats have come out and admitted that they plan on nailing Republicans on the "birther" question. In some cases, they've struck gold, as with defeated South Dakota congressional candidate Chris Nelson. In other cases, they've struck out, as when they tried to paint Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) as a birther merely for appearing in a photo with Orly Taitz. In all cases, I'm surprised when Republicans aren't ready to dismiss the premise and move on. Surely it's not too alienating to GOP voters in a deep red district to inform them that they're wrong about this.

My take on this story? The "he's our president" line is enough to absolve Harris of birtherism.

By David Weigel  |  June 10, 2010; 1:44 PM ET
Categories:  2010 Election  
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