About half the nation was aware of the concern over the absence of public documentation of Barack Obama’s eligibility to be president a year ago, a few months ago the dispute got top billing on CNN, and just a few days ago a new poll revealed six of 10 Americans are uncertain the president was born in the U.S.
Billboard near Navarre, Fla.
Now the dispute has been given top billing by the Associated Press, which has described itself as the world’s oldest and largest news-gathering organization and of late boasts of being the “essential” news service.
The billing came in a story today by Melissa Nelson and Jennifer Kay about plans by the president and his family for their next vacation, in the Florida Panhandle.
But, the AP notes, “conservatives in this Republican stronghold haven’t exactly rolled out the welcome mat.”
The report continues by revealing that a billboard just outside of Panama City Beach “funded by the conservative media organization WorldNetDaily.com says ‘Show us the birth certification.'”
Actually, the sign says “Where’s the birth certificate?”
It’s part of a campaign launched by WND founder and CEO Joseph Farah.
Billboard near Navarre, Fla.
It was in the same location that Obama earlier had a close encounter with the question about his eligibility, during a trip to the Gulf.
As an electronic sign, the billboard was able to go up on short notice.
The billboard campaign has posted signs in more than 50 cities since it was launched in 2009.
Farah attributes widespread interest in the great “birth-certificate controversy” to the billboard campaign that, he believes, rekindled the debate about Obama’s constitutional eligibility for office. The campaign asks the simple but unanswered question, “Where’s the birth certificate?”
The campaign has been sustained by contributions from WND visitors and others who have discovered it from simply driving past a billboard.
“It has certainly changed my life,” explains Farah. “A year ago I was still getting regular invitations to be on cable TV shows and talk about the issues of the day. The minute I was labeled a ‘birther,’ I became radioactive – just like Lou Dobbs.”
He’s also convinced that it’s working.
“No matter how hard my colleagues try to make the public forget about this issue, no matter how hard they attempt to ridicule anyone who wants to see the proof, no matter how much they demean even decorated military officers who take their own oaths seriously, this issue will not go away. It’s going to be around in 2012. It may even be the defining issue in 2012,” he said.
Farah says he could not have pulled off the campaign without the support of WND’s visitors. The cost of the billboards has been offset by donations – and Farah says he wants to step up the campaign because it’s winning.
The AP report noted the area has “voted overwhelming[ly] for Republican presidential candidates in [the] last 30 years.”
The latest CBS–New York Times poll showed only 58 percent of Americans even think Obama was born in the USA. Another later poll by CNN indicated six in 10 hold doubts about Obama’s birth and, therefore, eligibility.
Billboard near Talledega, Ala.
“I’m quite sure based on our own polls that if those people were asked whether they would like to see Obama release his birth certificate, more than half the country would say ‘yes’ – and all the other personal papers he has refused to disclose,” Farah said.
Farah says the billboards have had a lot to do with changing popular opinion – even if the media don’t get it.
“People simply shouldn’t have to conjecture about where they think their president was born,” he says. “It ought to be a matter of public record – and it clearly is not.”
Aside from the billboard campaign, WND has devoted more investigative reporting to the issue of eligibility than “all other media outlets combined,” says Farah.
In addition, the billboard campaign was rejected by three major billboard companies, all owned by major media outlets – CBS, Clear Channel and Lamar.
Billboard near Bethel, Pa.
“What I need Americans to understand is that this billboard campaign is working,” said Farah. “There is no shortage of billboards available to us. The only thing there’s a shortage of is the money to erect them. We need to raise tens of thousands of dollars a month just to keep them in place.”
“The impact of the billboards is magnified by local television and talk-radio shows in every market they enter,” explains Farah. “It’s not just the billboard. It’s the earned media that comes along with it. It’s astounding. We have turned millions of people around on this issue with the billboards. It’s just that simple.”
In addition to the billboard campaign, Farah has:
- produced a video-documentary primer on the issue called “A Question of Eligibility”;
- produced a 40-page special report on the subject;
- manufactured yard and rally signs to bring attention to the topic;
- pledged to donate at least $15,000 to any hospital in Hawaii or anywhere else that provides proof Obama was born there and given you an opportunity to raise the amount;
- created a line of T-shirts you can wear to appearances by the president to raise visibility of the issue;
- created a fund to which you can donate to further the kind of investigative reporting into this matter only this company has performed over the last two years;
- launched a line of postcards you can use to keep the issue alive;
- distributed thousands of bumper stickers asking, “Where’s the birth certificate?”;
- perhaps most notably, gathered more than 500,000 names on a petition demanding any and all controlling legal authorities in this matter take appropriate action to see the requirements of the Constitution of the United States are followed;
- gathered another 25,000 names on a second petition attempting to rally state officials to make presidential candidates prove their eligibility before getting on ballots.
“There are all kinds of things we need to do right now to get our country back on track, but I can think of nothing more important than for us to see that our Constitution is observed, followed, adhered to and honored, especially when it comes to such simple, straightforward matters as the eligibility of the president of the United States,” says Farah. “Please help me bring this matter to a head right now.”