The Birther Business: A Bipartisan Bonanza

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When President Obama released his long-form birth certificate last month, all but the most vehement of his critics agreed that the so-called "birther" controversy was finally resolved and he was, indeed, a U.S. citizen. But the echoes from his famous "sideshows and carnival barkers" press conference had barely faded before the battle flared up again.

Last week, WND books released Jerome Corsi's Where's the Birth Certificate, a book that, once again, questions the President's citizenship. Since its publication, Corsi's book has quickly climbed the bestseller lists, and is currently among the top selling books on Amazon.

Obama's camp was quick to respond. Barely had Where's the Birth Certificate hit shelves before Obama for America, the president's re-election committee, was notifying followers about its release -- and pushing some birther products of their own. Today, the question emerges: Who's really fueling the birther battle -- and who stands to profit?

A Three-Year Battle

Rumors about Obama's religion and heritage date back to his 2006 senate campaign, when opponents suggested that he practiced Islam, but the attacks heated up during his presidential run, when the patriotism of his pastor and his wife were called into question.

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Finally, when all else failed to slow his momentum in the primaries, Politico reports, outspoken supporters of Hilary Clinton floated the notion that Obama was born outside of the U.S. Despite the release of his short-form birth certificate in 2008, the theory continued to grow in popularity. Ultimately, 51% of registered Republicans admitted to harboring questions about the president's place of birth, and the birther issue became a cornerstone of Donald Trump's short-lived presidential run.

Riding the birther controversy -- and a strong endorsement from The Drudge Report's Matt Drudge -- Where's the Birth Certificate was selling well long before its release. Although the book's publisher, Joseph Farah, credits Drudge and Trump with helping sales, he notes that the biggest support came from a surprise source: "President Obama's re-election committee helped us by targeting Corsi in two e-mails."

The Other Side of the Birther Business

Julianna Smoot, deputy campaign manager of Obama for America, sent out messages shortly after Where's the Birth Certificate hit shelves. Dismissing Corsi's book as a "greatest-hits reel of delusions," Smoot argued that "There's really no way to make this stuff completely go away. The only thing we can do is laugh at it -- and make sure as many other people as possible are in on the joke."

To that end, Obama for America announced that it was selling some birther merchandise of its own, including a $15 Barack Obama mug and a $25 Obama T-shirt. Both items feature a picture of Obama over the legend "Made in the USA." To underscore the point, they also display his long-form birth certificate.

Following the death of Osama bin Laden, it's hard to gauge the long-term effect that the birth certificate release had on President Obama's approval ratings. However, there is no question about the effect that it had on Donald Trump's presidential ambitions: In the month since Obama's long-form birth certificate was made public, the Donald's support among registered Republicans fell from 26% to 8%, effectively tanking his campaign.

In this context, it isn't hard to see why Obama's supporters are inclined to play up the birther controversy. For his part, Joseph Farah seems to think that there is a strong future for books that question Obama's American bona fides: "Jerry Corsi told me that he has enough material for two sequels," Farah laughs. "For now, though, we're just going to promote this book and see where it goes." With Obama's supporters promoting Corsi, the future looks bright for the birther business -- on both sides of the partisan divide.
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