Republicans still believe Barack Obama was not born in US
More than half of Republicans who will choose the party's candidate to oppose Barack Obama in 2012 think he was not born in the United States and is therefore not entitled to serve as president, according to a poll.
Fifty one per cent of Republican primary voters said they endorsed the controversial "birther" theory that Mr Obama was not born in Hawaii, despite birth notices in two Honolulu newspapers in August 1961 and the fact that the state's authorities have published his birth certificate online. A further 21pc said they were "not sure".
"Any thought that the birther theory has been put to rest can be thrown out of the window," said Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling, which conducted the poll. "That view is still widely held in Republican circles."
A number of senior Republicans have denounced the birther theory, which gained ground during Mr Obama's 2008 election campaign but has refused to subside. Supporters of the notion contend he was born in Kenya, the land of his father, or Indonesia, where he lived with his American mother from the ages of six to ten.
But other party leaders have only agreed that Mr Obama is a US citizen under considerable arm-twisting from interviewers. Critics have accused them of collusion in spreading the impression of the president's illegitimacy.
Steve McMahon, a Democratic strategist, told MSNBC: "They are trying to create a seed of doubt in people's minds. There is a certain percentage of the Republican primary base that will believe anything, any bad rumour about President Obama."