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The list of prominent conservatives who have winked at birtherism is long. Earlier this month, Rush Limbaugh said, “We’ve got somebody about whom there are legitimate citizenship questions here, serving as president.” In March, Mike Huckabee said Obama grew up in Kenya and thus probably sympathized with the Mau Mau Rebellion against the British, though he later tried to pretend that he’d simply gotten Kenya and Indonesia mixed up. Sean Hannity has continually raised questions about Obama’s birth certificate. Michele Bachmann said that, running for president, “I think the first thing I would do in the first debate is offer my birth certificate so we can get that off the table.”
And, not surprisingly, many conservatives have taken their leaders at their word. A New York Times/CBS poll released Thursday shows that only 32 percent of Republican voters believe Obama was born in the United States. The numbers are even worse in Iowa, a hugely important state in the primaries. There, a Public Policy Polling survey recently found that only 26 percent of Republicans believe that the president was born in this country; 48 percent say he wasn’t, and the remaining 26 percent aren’t sure.