The White House has released President Obama's long-form birth certificate, saying the document is "proof positive" the president was born in Hawaii.
The release marked an unexpected turn in the long-simmering, though widely discredited, controversy over Obama's origin. Obama's advisers have for the better part of three years dismissed questions about the president's birth, directing skeptics to the short-term document released during the 2008 campaign. But as the issue gained more attention at the state level and particularly in the 2012 presidential race, Obama said Wednesday that it was starting to distract attention from pressing challenges like the budget.
The president, who discussed the release at the White House without taking questions, said he had been "puzzled" by the enduring shelf life of the issue and acknowledged the announcement may not put the so-called birther controversy to rest. But he told the public and the media that it's time to "get serious."
"We do not have time for this kind of silliness," Obama said. "We've got better stuff to do. I've got better stuff to do. We've got big problems to solve."
He said the country will not solve those problems if people are "distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers."
The document released by the White House lists Obama's birthplace as Honolulu, Hawaii, and his birth date as Aug. 4, 1961. The hospital listed is Kapiolani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital. The name on the birth certificate is Barack Hussein Obama II.
Obama's presidential campaign, in response to questions raised in 2008, at the time posted a short-form version of the document on the Internet. But conspiracy theories continued to fester. They gained legs in recent weeks as Donald Trump, who is toying with the possibility of running as a presidential candidate in 2012, repeatedly and publicly questioned Obama's origin.
White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer noted that what started as Internet chatter had moved into the national political debate and ended up being discussed regularly on mainstream news outlets.
Pfeiffer, on the White House blog, said the president thought the attention was "bad for the American people" and directed his counsel to request access to the long-form document from the Hawaii State Department of Health. The department granted an exception to release the long-form document "because of the tremendous volume of requests they had been getting," the White House said.
"At a time of great consequence for this country -- when we should be debating how we win the future, reduce our deficit, deal with high gas prices, and bring stability to the Middle East, Washington, D.C., was once again distracted by a fake issue," Pfeiffer said on the blog. "The president's hope is that with this step, we can move on to debating the bigger issues that matter to the American people and the future of the country."
Trump, speaking in New Hampshire, took credit Wednesday for the president's decision to release the document. He said his team would have to examine the birth certificate and questioned why the White House took so long, but indicated he wanted to move beyond the issue.
"Today, I'm very proud of myself, because I've accomplished something that nobody else has been able to accomplish," Trump told reporters. "Why he didn't do it when everybody else was asking for it, I don't know. But I am really honored, frankly, to have played such a big role in hopefully, hopefully getting rid of this issue."
The document states that Obama's father, Barack Hussein Obama, was born in Kenya and that his mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, was born in Kansas.