Image: Eric Cantor
Charles Dharapak  /  AP
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia
updated 1/23/2011 2:02:31 PM ET 2011-01-23T19:02:31

The new Republican House majority leader says he doesn't think questions about President Barack Obama's citizenship should play a role in the discussion of policy matters.

Two years into the Obama administration, so-called birthers continue to argue that Obama isn't a natural-born citizen and that he hasn't proved he's constitutionally qualified to be president. Birth records in Hawaii haven't dissuaded them.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor says he believes Obama is a citizen and that most Americans are beyond that question.

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"I don't think it's an issue that we need to address at all. . It is not an issue that even needs to be on the policy-making table right now whatsoever," he said.

Appearing Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press," Cantor refused to call people who question Obama's citizenship "crazy."

"I don't think it's nice to call anyone crazy," Cantor said

Cantor says he believes that Obama wants what's best for the country and that there are honest disagreements over how to achieve that.

Birthers say there's no proof he was born in the United States; many of these skeptics question whether he was actually born in Kenya, his father's home country.

Hawaii's health director said in 2008 and 2009 that she had seen and verified Obama's original vital records, and birth notices in two Honolulu newspapers were published within days of Obama's birth at Kapiolani Maternity and Gynecological Hospital in Honolulu.

Health Department spokeswoman Janice Okubo again confirmed on Friday that Obama's name is found in its alphabetical list of names of people born in Hawaii, maintained in bound copies available for public view.

Hawaii's Democratic governor, Neil Abercrombie, who was a friend of Obama's parents and knew him as a child, began an effort last month to find a way to dispel conspiracy theories that the president was born elsewhere. The governor said he was bothered by people who questioned Obama's birthplace for political reasons.

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But Abercrombie's office said Friday that he was ending his quest because it's against state law to release private documents. The state's attorney general told the governor he can't disclose an individual's birth documentation without a person's consent.

The Obama campaign issued a certificate of live birth in 2008, an official document from the state showing the president's birth date, city and name, along with his parents' names and races.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Cantor addresses talk of Obama’s citizenship

  1. Closed captioning of: Cantor addresses talk of Obama’s citizenship

    >> talk about discourse and how you all can get along better and do it more civilly. this is a leadership moment here. there are elements of this country who question the president's citizenship, who think that his birth certificate isn't authentic. will you call that what it is, which is crazy talk?

    >> a lot of that has been an issue generated by not only the media but others in the country. most americans really are beyond that and they want us to focus --

    >> if someone brings that up, engaging in crazy talk?

    >> it's not nice to call anyone crazy. i don't think it's an issue we should address at all.

    >> his citizenship should not be questioned?

    >> it's not an issue that even needs to be on the policy making table right now.

    >> because it's illegitimate? call it what it is. a plot of republican leaders won't criticize those --

    >> i think the president is a citizen of the united states .

    >> period.

    >> yes. why is it you want me to engage in name calling?

    >> because i think a lot of people would say that a leader's job is to shut some of this down. you know as well as i do there are elements on the right who believe two things about this president. he actively is trying to undermine the american way and wants to deny individuals their freedom. do you reject those beliefs as a leader in our congress?

    >> i believe this president wants what's best in this country. it's just how he feels we get there are policy difference.

    >> fair enough.

    >> the question over the next two years he will demonstrate he no longer wants to adhere to more spending, to more trying to achieve equal outcomes rather than equal opportunity and that he really does believe america was built on those striving for opportunity and willing to take their own responsibility to achieve their success and not rely on washington to sort of determine winners and losers. that to me is what america is about. that's how we get to a better place in this country and continue to lead. and the question will be -- i think that most americans are like that. and so the question is does the president now embrace what the electorate said which is we reject your agenda and let's try it a different


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