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Louisiana legislature considers 'birther' bill

By the CNN Wire Staff
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New 'birther' bill emerges in Louisiana
  • NEW: President Barack Obama touches on "birther" controversy at fundraiser
  • Louisiana considers a bill requiring presidential candidates to prove "natural born" status
  • The Constitution stipulates only a "natural born citizen" can be president
  • Some Republicans distance themselves from the issue

(CNN) -- It's not specifically called a "birther" bill and it doesn't mention President Barack Obama by name, but proposed state legislation in Louisiana appears to be the latest attempt to keep alive arguments over whether Obama can prove he was born in the United States.

The proposed Louisiana legislation would require an affidavit to accompany documents, including a birth certificate and a sworn statement that identifies the candidate's place of residence for the preceding 14 years, for someone to quality for the presidential ballot. Similar requirements are set for other offices including Congress.

Bill co-sponsor state Sen. A.G. Crowe told CNN's "AC360" Thursday night that his constituents wanted the legislation, although he said he had no comment on whether Obama was born in the United States.

"The issue won't go away," said Crowe, a Republican.

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Obama has been hounded by allegations since he began running for president in 2008 that he was not born in the United States.

Critics -- often called "birthers" -- contend, among other things, that Obama was born in his father's home country of Kenya. The U.S. Constitution stipulates that only "natural born" citizens are eligible to be president.

Obama, who is seeking re-election, has insisted that he was born in Hawaii, and arguments to the contrary have been repeatedly discredited in investigations by CNN and other organizations.

In an effort to counter the claims, Obama's 2008 campaign produced a "certification of live birth," a document traditionally accepted legally as confirmation of a birth.

Both the current Hawaii governor, Neil Abercrombie, a Democrat, and the previous governor, Linda Lingle, a Republican, have insisted that Obama was born in their home state.

Nevertheless, the issue remains politically potent among segments of the electorate and has served as a rallying cry for many of the president's opponents.

In a call to CNN's "American Morning," potential presidential candidate Donald Trump said of Obama's constitutional eligibility to be president: "We're looking into it very, very strongly."

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican, has said he would sign the proposed legislation if it passes, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper.

But a growing list of Republican politicians and strategists, including Rep. Michele Bachmann, Republican strategist Karl Rove, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a likely GOP presidential candidate, have distanced themselves from the "birther" issue.

Republican Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer on Monday vetoed similar legislation.

Nearly 75% of Americans believe Obama was definitely or probably born in the United States, according to a March 11-13 CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll.

More than four in 10 Republicans, however, believe the president probably or definitely was not born in America.

Fourteen other states are considering similar legislation this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Measures have failed in three states -- Connecticut, Maine and Montana.

Obama touched on the issue Thursday night during a fundraiser with Hollywood luminaries at the Tavern Restaurant in Brentwood, California.

"You all got involved when the prospect of electing Barack Hussein Obama was slim," he said. "None of you asked for my birth certificate. It was a complete leap of faith."

Watch Anderson Cooper 360° weeknights 8pm ET. For the latest from AC360° click here.

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