The Associated Press reported today that Mike Huckabee "departed from reality" when he claimed that President Obama grew up in Kenya. Huckabee, a Fox News contributor and possible GOP presidential candidate, made the false claim yesterday on WOR's The Steve Malzberg Show.
A spokesman later claimed that Huckabee misspoke, saying that he meant to say Obama grew in up Indonesia. Media Matters noted several problems with this line of defense.
From the Associated Press:
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee suggested in a radio interview that President Barack Obama's childhood in Kenya shaped his worldview -- even though Obama did not visit Kenya until he was in his 20s.
Obama was born in Hawaii in 1961 to a mother from Kansas, and a father from Kenya whom he would barely know. He spent the first five years of his life in Hawaii and then moved with his since-divorced mother and her new husband to Indonesia. At the age of 10, he returned to Hawaii to live with his maternal grandparents on Oahu until he started his undergraduate degree in Los Angeles and completed it in New York City.
"The first time I came to Kenya was in 1987," Obama said at the University of Nairobi in 2006. "I had just finished three years of work as a community organizer in low-income neighborhoods of Chicago, and was about to enroll in law school. My sister, Auma, was teaching that year at this university, and so I came to stay with her for a month."
Many conservative activists believe -- and some have unsuccessfully filed lawsuits to prove -- that Obama is a Kenyan who does not meet the Constitution's citizenship requirement. A Washington Post-ABC News poll last year found 14 percent of Americans say without prompting that they believe Obama was born in another country. That number rose to 20 percent when those with no opinion were given that as an option.
During his 2008 presidential campaign, Obama posted a copy of his birth certificate on his website to confront persistent rumors. It did little to assuage skeptics who are convinced by Internet rumors and conservative talk radio hosts that Obama was raised in his father's homeland.
Huckabee himself has called these suggestions fringe theories that distract from the serious policy disagreements with Obama. During appearances for his book tour, he dismissed the so-called "birther" ideas.