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Obama birth certificate: Oprah asks, 'Why did you wait so long?'

April 27, 2011|By Michael A. Memoli, Washington Bureau
(Larry Downing, Reuters )

Reporting from Washington — President Obama told Oprah Winfrey on Wednesday that he was driven to release his long-form birth certificate so that the nation could move on and focus on a "serious conversation" about solving its problems.

Obama, joined by his wife, discussed the issue at Winfrey's Chicago studios hours after he took to the White House briefing room to chide the "sideshows and carnival barkers" propagating conspiracies about his roots.

Winfrey asked Obama why he waited so long to release the full documentation.

"When it first came up, were you thinking, I hope I was born here?" Winfrey asked, according to a transcript provided by her production company.

"Can I just say I was there, so I knew," Obama said. "I knew I had been born. I remembered it."

"Of course you did," Winfrey said.

The interview with the Obamas will air May 2 on one of Winfrey's final shows in a quarter-century run.

Winfrey famously lent her credibility and celebrity status to Obama's 2008 presidential campaign with her endorsement during the Democratic primaries. She joined him at campaign rallies that drew supporters by the thousands.

Obama told her that he sought a "special dispensation" from the state of Hawaii to release the full record after the ongoing debate over his birthplace -- fed in recent weeks by Donald Trump -- overshadowed the deficit debate.

"I said to my team, look, even though this is not usually what the state of Hawaii does. Even though the Republican governor of Hawaii, the Democratic governors of Hawaii, all the various officials had confirmed that I was born here, let's ask them for a special dispensation where they will go ahead and provide us with the original to see if we can put this to rest," he said.

"We are living in a very serious time. And America has huge potential and opportunity to seize the 21st century. We're only gonna get there, though, if we have a serious conversation about the things that matter to people," he said.

michael.memoli@latimes.com

Katherine Skiba contributed to this report

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