Former Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI), who is running for Senate to take on Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow, told a tea party town hall last month that the federal government should establish an official committee to review presidential candidates’ birth certificates.
The full-length video of the Q&A was posted online four weeks ago by the Lapeer County Tea Party Patriots. An excerpt, in which Hoekstra is asked about Obama’s birth certificate, has been posted online by the Michigan Democrats, injecting Hoekstra into a recent resurgence in birther theories espoused by Donald Trump, Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett and Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO). A man in the audience complained to Hoekstra about President Obama’s birth certificate, “It’s on the computer, it’s everywhere, you hear people talking about it,” but nobody is doing anything about it, and he wanted Hoekstra’s thoughts on the matter.
“Sure. I mean, I think — you know, I think, throw something at me if you want, I think with this president, the book is closed, all right?” Hoekstra tells the man. “It’s kind of like, I hate to say it, but I think the debate’s over — we lost that debate, and we lost that debate in 2008, when our presidential nominee said, ‘I ain’t talking about it.’ OK, I’m sorry.
“But I do now believe that I’d like to establish a three-person office in Washington, D.C., OK — knowing it, we’ll go to five (audience laughs). But there’s no reason why we should have this kind of question, you know, for the president of the United States. So that at any future election, all right, that someone would have to walk into that office, and prove that they meet the minimum qualifications to be president of the United States.”
Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer said Hoekstra’s comments demonstrated he was “outside the mainstream.”
“You can’t get much further outside the mainstream than calling for the creation of a birther office staffed by the CIA and FBI,” Brewer told the Grand Rapids Press. “Our leaders should be focused on creating jobs, not on creating a new federal bureaucracy to comb through birth certificates. Hoekstra’s radical plan to appoint a Birther Czar shows just how far he’ll go to win the support of Tea Party radicals like Donald Trump.”
Hoekstra also quipped that he might now be eligible to run even though he is a Dutch immigrant — alluding to supposedly lax enforcement that allowed Obama to become president.
“OK, I am a Dutch immigrant. I do not — maybe now I do — up until three or four years ago, I didn’t believe I met the qualifications to be president of the United States. Am I right?
“And so, but you know, this is not brain surgery — it should be an FBI person, maybe a CIA person and one person managing those two people, and just if you want to run for president, you’ve got to go with the right, proper documentation, you go to that person, and get it certified that you meet the qualification to be president of the United States. You are the right age, you were born in the United States, or of U.S. citizens. And it’s done.
“You know, it’s embarrassing that we are at that point where that ever became an issue. Sorry, I’d love to give you an answer, I’m gonna fight, and we’re gonna beat it, and we’re gonna win it. I think it wasn’t fought, and we lost. Sorry.”
The Hoekstra campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
This is not the first time in the campaign that Hoekstra has been involved in a racially divisive issue. Earlier this year, he ran a controversial campaign ad in Michigan during the Super Bowl, featuring an Asian-American actress speaking in broken English, as she rode her bicycle by the side of a rice paddy, to “thank” Stabenow for spending and borrowing money from China.
“Your economy get very weak,” the woman said in the ad. “Ours get very good. We take your jobs.”
Hoekstra’s campaign later took down the ad from YouTube, along with the spot’s accompanying Web site — and followed up with a new ad in which Hoekstra seemed to criticize the national outrage: “In spite of what the media says, this race is really our chance to tell Washington ‘spend it not.’”