US President Barack Obama made an extraordinary intervention to silence "birther" conspiracy theorists yesterday, releasing a copy of his original birth certificate which shows definitively that he was born in Hawaii.
Mr Obama condemned the long-running row over his place of birth as "silliness" and a "sideshow" and said the United States had serious "monumental issues" to deal with such as the national debt, education and petrol prices.
He described those who have peddled the myth that he was not born in the US as "carnival barkers". Mr Obama did not identify those opponents by name but appeared to be referring to Donald Trump, the potential Republican presidential candidate and property tycoon.
Mr Trump and the so-called "birthers" had suggested Mr Obama was born in his father's native Kenya. That would make him ineligible to serve as president because the US Constitution specifies they must be "natural-born" citizens.
Showing the prominence the issue had gained, Mr Obama addressed the nation from a podium at the White House, with television networks breaking into their regular schedules to broadcast his remarks.
He said: "Yes, in fact, I was born in Hawaii, August 4, 1961, in Kapiolani Hospital. Over the last two-and-a-half years I have watched with bemusement, I have been puzzled to the degree to which this thing just kept growing.
"I know that there is going to be a segment of people for which, no matter what I put out, this issue will not be put to rest. But I'm speaking to the vast majority of the American people.
"We do not have time for this kind of silliness. We've got better stuff to do. I've got better stuff to do."
Mr Trump immediately took credit for the release of the birth certificate and even suggested he wanted to see it before accepting it was genuine.
Speaking in New Hampshire, where one of the key 2012 presidential primary races takes place, he said: "I want to look at it, but I hope it's true so we can get on to much more important matters. He should have done it a long time ago. I am really honoured to play such a big role in hopefully, hopefully getting rid of this issue."
Other Republicans criticised Mr Obama for raising the issue in the first place. Mitt Romney, a front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, said: "What president Obama should really be releasing is a jobs plan."
Mr Obama faced some criticism for having taken so long to release the certificate, allowing the conspiracy theory to take hold. Mr Trump's repeated recent comments had brought a fringe conspiracy theory into the mainstream.
It was regularly being debated on US television networks and threatened to become a major focus of the 2012 campaign. A recent poll found 47pc of Republicans believed that their president was born outside the US. There is no mention of religion on the cert. (© Daily Telegraph, London)