ThinkProgress filed this report from the Western Republican Leadership Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.
First, after Rick Perry met with birther-aficionado Donald Trump, the Texas governor told Parade Magazine “I don’t know” whether President Obama’s birth certificate is authentic. (View Obama’s authentic birth certificate for yourself here.)
Now, Tea Party freshman Rep. Dave Schweikert (R-AZ) joins the fray. Schweikert was asked about Obama’s birth certificate at a Republican convention in Las Vegas on Friday, but rather than simply telling the audience member that Obama is a natural-born U.S. citizen, Schweikert proceeded to coddle the birther, never once suggesting that the man’s assertion was incorrect. Instead, the congressman declared that Republicans like him wanted to have an “intellectually sound debate,” but that Democratic consultants had cynically hijacked the issue for political gain. Schweikert ended by telling the birther that “we may ultimately be right” about the birth certificate issue:
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Since we have both members of each house here, why can’t you guys write up a thing to call him up to testify whether or not the birth certificate is valid? If the birth certificate isn’t valid, the one on the website isn’t valid, that would be a crime, that would be a high crime, and would be worthy of impeachment as well as punishment. [...]
SCHWEIKERT: I’ve got to walk you through something. This one burns in my soul. We need to win in 2012. We need to save our country. [...] Understand, why are some of the left-wing political consultants absolutely giddy every time this question comes up? They use it against us, even though you want to have an intellectually sound debate and discussion, the people that now decide our elections are this little 10, 20 percent in the middle that swing back and forth and they’re not necessarily comfortable because they think Republicans are mean, but they don’t think the Democrats have a sense of how to do things.
We are trying to convince them we are honorable and going to follow the Constitution and do what’s necessary. I’m sorry, but when we get off on some of the things that scare those independents — we may ultimately be right – you may be the one where you tell a great story, but understand, you are giving up the 2012 election.
Watch it (Sen. Mike Lee’s (R-UT) response to the audience member is excluded for brevity):
As long as Republicans like Perry and Schweikert refuse to marginalize birthers, the issue will continue its zombie-like regeneration as the 2012 election approaches.