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Obama: Birth Issue a Distraction as Country Faces Challenges


President Barack Obama gestures while speaking to reporters about the controversy over his birth certificate and true nationality, Wednesday, April 27, 2011, at the White House in Washington.

President Barack Obama says the White House released his birth certificate in detail Wednesday because questions about it have become a distraction.

He said the country faces "enormous challenges," including the economy, and said he has better things to do than deal with the "silliness" about whether he was born in the United States. He said he has been "puzzled" by the ongoing controversy.

Mr. Obama's comments came shortly after the White House released the certificate to again refute claims that he was not born in the United States. The document says he was born August 4, 1961, in the Pacific U.S. state of Hawaii.

So-called "birthers" believe the president has not provided adequate proof that he is a natural born citizen, a requirement for the presidency.

Prominent Republicans said the birth certificate talk is a distraction from the country's economic problems.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said the president should spend his time "getting serious" about repairing the economy, working with Republicans and focusing on the long term sustainability of benefit programs, such as Social Security. The office of Republican House Speaker John Boehner said Mr. Obama's birth "has long been a settled issue."

New York real estate mogul Donald Trump, who is surging in polls among possible Republican presidential candidates, claimed credit for forcing Mr. Obama to release the document. Trump has been vocal in questioning whether Mr. Obama was born in the United States.

Mr. Obama's presidential campaign released a short-form certificate of birth in 2008.

Born to an African father and an American mother, the president lived in Indonesia in his youth.

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