Champaign, Illinois mayor doubts Obama's natural-born citizenship; local politicians divided on whether mayor should resign

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Barack Obama's birth certificate.

The mayor of Champaign, Illinois denies that Barack Obama is eligible to hold the highest office in the United States, joining others who question the validity of the president's birth certificate.

Jerry Schweighart said: "I don't think he's American, personally. You know, if you're not willing to produce an original certificate like a birth certificate, then you've got something to hide." The Republican, three-term mayor of the central Illinois city made the comment to a man holding a video camera during a Tea Party protest at West Side Park in Champaign. The man who recorded him apparently was an anti-Tea Party student from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign.

Schweighart's concerns reflect those held by some Tea Party proponents and "birthers", who claim that Obama is not eligible to be the president because he was not born in the United States. Although officials in Hawaii have confirmed that Obama was born there, birthers still insist that he has not proven his constitutional eligibility as a natural born citizen.

Champaign County Board member Al Kurtz, declaring himself "flabbergasted" by the remarks, has called on the mayor to resign. "It's a ridiculous statement to make, and that's why I felt like he polarized the city with those kinds of bias. I think from this statement, it will make him a very ineffective mayor," he said.

Other local politicians are less concerned by Schweighart's comment, such as city council member Marci Dodds, who does not believe the mayor should resign. "I respect the mayor greatly but I am somewhat disheartened by his comments. However, that was just a dumb comment. If we all get fired for making dumb comments, we'd sure be moving around a lot," she said.