Thursday, April 22

Anderson Cooper PWNS Arizona State Birther

Wherein Anderson Cooper flays and fillets Arizona State Republican Rep Cecil Ash over his support for the new Birther Bill that has just passed the State Legislature.


COOPER: Joining us now is Arizona Republican State Representative Cecil Ash, who voted for the measure.

Thanks very much for being with us.

Do you believe Barack Obama is an American born in Hawaii?

CECIL ASH (R), ARIZONA STATE REPRESENTATIVE: All the evidence I have seen is that he was born in Hawaii. I have seen a birth certificate on the Internet. Of course, you can't believe everything you see on the Internet. So, I have never personally investigated it or studied it.

COOPER: But, Oklahoma, it sounds like you're -- really saying you believe it, but you don't believe what you read on the Internet. So, you do believe he's an American, though?

ASH: Yes, I do.

COOPER: I mean, as you said, the certificate of live birth is available for anyone to see. It's been released. And, in Hawaii, there are only electronic records at this point, and the health department there has verified it. They have made public statements.

So, why vote for something which perpetuates these false Internet rumors?

ASH: Well, Anderson, I think there's been a lot of controversy over the issue. It's created a division among a lot of people in the United States. And, for better or worse, many people don't believe he is a U.S. citizen. They believe he has loyalties -- divided loyalties, I suppose you could say.

COOPER: Right, but those people are wrong. I mean, he is a U.S. citizen.

ASH: Well, you're telling me that he's wrong. I have never investigated that. If he is, then he has nothing to fear.

COOPER: But -- but, I mean, that -- the information is out there. It has been released. It has been shown. There are some people who don't believe it, but there are also some people who believe that the moon is made out of cheese. And you can say you have never investigated it, but I think you would probably say the moon is not made out of cheese.

ASH: Well, I certainly would.

But the reason I spoke up on this bill is simply because there is a lot of division in the country. And I believe this would put an end to any future controversy about a president's qualifications.

COOPER: You told our producer you voted for this because you get a lot of calls from constituents with questions based on things they have read on the Internet.

I mean, isn't it your job as a leader to actually lead, not to throw up your hands and say, well, who knows what's real or not on the Internet, to actually say, well, actually, you know, Hawaii has released this information, and it's factually correct?

ASH: Well, as I said, I haven't personally investigated that. But I -- I think that, if -- if...

COOPER: But, I mean, there's plenty of things you believe that you have not personally investigated.

ASH: That's true.

COOPER: Why, this, are you holding onto?

ASH: Well, what we're requiring here is for a -- a presidential candidate to demonstrate he is qualified.

And I don't think having any presidential candidate -- candidate show that he's qualified by demonstrating the requirements of the requirements, that there's any problem with that.

COOPER: You told my producer you thought the president spent a million dollars fighting the release of his birth certificate, and then that raised concerns for you.


ASH: That's what I have heard. As I said, it...

COOPER: Right. But that's not -- you know that's actually not true?

ASH: I -- I don't know that that's not true. As I said, I haven't studied it. You get a lot of information on the Internet. As you know, much of it is inaccurate.

This has not been a focus of my attention for the last two years. But I know it is a matter of -- of controversy for many people. And I looked at this as simply a -- a means to end that controversy.

COOPER: You -- you also said to our producer that the president identified himself as a foreigner on his college application.

ASH: Yes.

COOPER: You know that's not true, right?

ASH: I didn't know that that was not true.

COOPER: That's a story that was put out on April Fool's Day. It's a fake AP news story.

ASH: Like I said, I -- I'm reluctant to read anything I read on the Internet, including the evidence about his birth certificate.

This -- this is not the responsibility of the average citizen.

COOPER: So -- so -- so, the only -- the only way you will believe a birth certificate is if, what, you see it for yourself at the state office in Hawaii? I mean, to not believe anything that is put out by anyone, then how can you believe anything? I mean...

ASH: Well, it's -- it...


ASH: It's not my -- it's not my responsibility...

COOPER: Do you believe...


ASH: ... to check the qualifications.

When someone comes to be on the ballot in Arizona, it's not my responsibility to check those qualifications. It's the responsibility of the secretary of state.

And, so, all we said is, if -- if it's required that you be a natural-born citizen, he should determine that. Now, you -- you argue this in terms of what's happened to Barack Obama. I'm thinking in terms of the next nominees down the road.

COOPER: But this is all about Barack Obama. I mean, this is -- this is completely partisan, no?

ASH: Well -- well, that's why I spoke up on the bill. They were -- the other side, the Democrats, were saying this is racist; it's to embarrass Barack Obama.

And I spoke up to say, this is not a matter of race. It's not a racist issue. I'm merely voting for the -- as you call it, the birthers amendment.

COOPER: So, where was George Bush born?

ASH: I have no idea where George Bush was born.

COOPER: But you -- that wasn't a concern for you when he was in office?

ASH: The issue never came up.

COOPER: What about Bill Clinton? Where was he born?

ASH: I have no idea.

COOPER: So, all of a sudden, you're concerned about where the president of the United States is born, based on calls you're getting from constituents who are misinformed?

ASH: Actually, I did not get any calls from constituents until after this bill was passed.

But I don't think there's any harm in requiring someone to demonstrate that they meet the requirements for the position. Now, nobody can deny -- regardless of what you believe about President Obama, nobody can deny that there's been a controversy. You may deny...

COOPER: Well, yes, but there's controversy about everything. People -- and there -- but there are things called facts, and you know the facts. You are a leader. You know the facts.

Isn't it your job -- when a constituent calls and says, gosh, I'm reading all this stuff on the Internet that President Obama was a -- was foreign exchange student, to say, actually, no, he wasn't?

I mean, isn't it -- that your -- part of your job?

ASH: Look, President Obama is president now. For the future, this kind of controversy should not come up again, because they will have to establish that up front. And that will avoid this kind of controversy in the future.

COOPER: To your critics who will say that you and the other Republicans -- only Republicans voted for this -- are simply pandering to a misinformed electorate, that, rather than setting the record straight yourselves, you're just pandering. You're kind of throwing up your hands and saying, gosh, I don't know, there's a lot of stuff on the Internet, a lot of it seems controversial, we need this bill, rather than saying, actually, this information is false.

ASH: Well, I think our purpose was to avoid this kind of controversy in the future. And I think that's appropriate. That's our job as leaders is to eliminate the possibility of this kind of controversy in the future.

COOPER: State Representative Cecil Ash, I appreciate your time. Thank you, sir.

ASH: Thank you very much. Bye.


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