Published February 12, 2010
A couple of widely debunked conspiracy theories are getting mainstream attention in two of the country's gubernatorial races.
Republican Debra Medina, a candidate for governor in Texas, has said she has questions about whether the U.S. government was involved in the Sept. 11 attacks -- echoing the members of the so-called 9/11 "Truther" movement, which rejects the accepted fact that Al Qaeda terrorists acted alone.
And in Georgia, Rep. Nathan Deal, a Republican candidate for governor, has sent a letter to the White House asking President Obama to release his birth certificate -- a request that is at the heart of the "birther" movement, which questions whether the president was born in Hawaii.
But Medina and Deal insist they are not part of those movements, which have drawn derision and scorn for focusing on conspiracy theories that lack evidence or have been proven false.
Medina has said she believes in the right of 9/11 truthers to ask questions, but she rejects the notion that she is one of them.
"Do I champion those ideas? No I don't," she said. "Have I been working on them? No I haven't. Am I a conspiracy theorist? No, I'm not. Would I consider myself a 9/11 truther? No, I would not."
But she told Fox News' Glenn Beck on his radio show Thursday that there were "some very good arguments" that the U.S. was involved in bringing down the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
Later, she released a statement saying she did not believe the government was involved in the attacks. But her opponents in the Republican primary, Gov. Rick Perry and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, have blasted her for her comments.
Perry said Medina's remarks were an insult to Americans who lost loved ones. Hutchison stressed that the attacks were the work of Al Qaeda terrorists.
In Georgia, Deal, who sent his letter in December, says he is not questioning Obama's legitimacy, but he believes the president would like a chance to put the issue to rest -- even though the Hawaiian government confirmed during the 2008 campaign that a copy of Obama's birth certificate, which his campaign posted on his Web site, was authentic.
In a gubernatorial debate this month, Deal was criticized by one of his GOP opponents for pressing the president to release his birth certificate
"The ability to work with the president ... is hindered when you have people who are running for governor that are calling for childish things like the president to show his birth certificate," said Georgia state lawmaker Austin Scott. "I promise you I'll always be a gentleman when working with the federal government."
Deal shot back that he is only serving the interests of his constituents who want to know what the status of the president's birth certificate is.
"I have simply asked the president, tell me where I can refer these constituent inquiries to a source that you think is credible so that we can answer their questions," he said. "I think that's a reasonable proposition and certainly something that I think the president should respond to. Although at this point he has not."