CNN Host Confronts Pete Hoekstra Over Proposed Birther Commission

Well, we can add Rep. Pete Hoekstra to the list of Republicans that have decided to go full birther this week. If anyone isn't sure of what the standard is to qualify you as a birther, I'm pretty sure it's quantifying any statements you make about
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Well, we can add Rep. Pete Hoekstra to the list of Republicans that have decided to go full birther this week. If anyone isn't sure of what the standard is to qualify you as a birther, I'm pretty sure it's quantifying any statements you make about President Obama and whether he was born in the United States with "I'm not a birther... but..."

I was glad to see Hoekstra and his ilk get a little bit of push back from CNN reporter Brooke Baldwin. As Think Progress reported, Hoekstra was flirting with birtherism at an event this week: GOP Senate Candidate Flirts With Birtherism At Tea Party Event.

As TPM noted, Hoekstra was not happy to see his remarks called out by CNN's Baldwin: Pete Hoekstra Defends Birther Commission Proposal:

Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) defended his proposal to create a new federal commission staffed with FBI and CIA officers that would investigate presidential candidates’ place of birth Wednesday, after video of him suggesting such a group surfaced online.

Hoekstra, who is running for Senate and hoping to challenge incumbent Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), first pitched the idea at a town hall last month, footage of which surfaced Wednesday. The Michigan Democratic Party derided the idea as a “birther office” and said it placed Hoekstra firmly in the Donald Trump zone of the conservative fringe.

Appearing on CNN, Hoekstra defended the proposed bureau from aggressive questioning by Brooke Baldwin. He insisted that his proposal had nothing to do with President Obama, who has battled a litany of phony rumors about his birthplace over the last four years, rumors referenced by the very town hall questioner that prompted Hoekstra’s initial commission proposal.

“This is all looking forward, saying we have requirements in place, we have requirements in some states where people when they go to vote they’ve got to show a driver’s license,” he said. “You would think that we could at least make sure that when someone decides to run for office that we know that they meet the minimum requirements and we’ll never have this kind of debate again.”

But Baldwin challenged him on just what “problem” Hoekstra was trying to correct if his idea had nothing to do with the birther conspiracies surrounding Obama. [...]

Baldwin aired a clip of an infamous Hoekstra ad that aired during this year’s Super Bowl, since pulled from his website, in which an actress depicted a Chinese villager thanking Hoekstra’s opponent in broken English for running up the national debt.

“Critics called you a racist for that ad,” Baldwin said. “Do you realize that critics might use this office, this proposal for this office, as further proof?”

Hoekstra was not happy to see the old wound reopened.

Transcript of their full exchange below the fold.

BALDWIN: Let me just begin with, after four years of the media and conservatives digging for evidence that President Obama wasn't born here and coming up with nothing, we need a federal office to do that?

HOEKSTRA: Well, actually, yes, I think that it is a proposed solution, whether it's an office, whether it's the responsibility of some other organization.

When you're a candidate for office, I fill out hundreds of pages of documents to verify each and every contribution that comes to my campaign. I have to fill out pages and pages that list every asset that I own. And you would think that the United States of America could go through a very simple process that said, hey, I want to run for president and there would just be a person that would say, OK, here are the minimum qualifications. There's an age requirement. There's a birth requirement.

Yes, meet -- show that you meet these requirements and we will move on. Very, very simple. Solve the problem. We will never have this kind of debate or question again and we can talk about the real issues, which are the economy...

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: Hang on. Before you talk about the economy...

(CROSSTALK)

HOEKSTRA: And this does not have to be that hard.

BALDWIN: Let me just -- so I'm hearing you correctly, whether it's an office, whether it's appointed folks from some other organization, you want positions to make sure that these candidates are born in the USA?

HOEKSTRA: I do not -- what I want is, I want to make sure that candidates who run for the office of the president meet the minimum requirements.

This has nothing to do so about Barack Obama. This has nothing to do about the past. This is all looking forward and saying we have requirements in place. We have requirements in some states where people when they go to vote they have got to show a driver's license. You would think that we could at least make sure that when someone decides to run for office, that we know that they meet the minimum requirements and we will never have this kind of debate again.

Let's talk about the real issues.

BALDWIN: How can you say, though, that this is not about President Obama?

HOEKSTRA: Because that's not my focus. My focus is, I want to make sure this never happens again. Let's talk about the real issues in this campaign.

For someone else, it may be about President Obama and that -- so be it for them. For me, it's not. It's an argument that shouldn't be taking place. It could be fixed very, very quickly and very easily so that people know that the certification has taken place.

(CROSSTALK)

HOEKSTRA: ... argument to have today.

BALDWIN: Hang on a second. Let me just play a little bit more. These are more of your comments from that Tea Party meeting. Roll it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOEKSTRA: I think, with this president, the book is closed.

The -- it's kind of like -- I hate to say it, but I think the debate is over. We lost that debate and we lost that debate in 2008 when our presidential nominee said, I ain't talking about it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: So what opportunity did John McCain miss in 2008? That's what you were talking about. And do you believe that President Obama's birth certificate is real?

HOEKSTRA: Now, what I said is very clear. In 2008, our presidential nominee, the head of our political party, John McCain, decided that this was an issue that he was not going to pursue and moved on and talked about the things that he believed were most important about the campaign.

I don't know if there was an opportunity that was missed or not. And it doesn't matter at this point. We are -- Barack Obama is the president of the United States. He has demonstrated and no one has taken a look at this stuff and discredited it. I'm not talking about Barack Obama. I'm just saying, you know, that this is in -- in the United States of America, this is a debate we should not be having.

BALDWIN: You're a Republican. Why add another layer of bureaucracy to our government? Shouldn't you be opposed to that?

HOEKSTRA: No, because I think that what we're seeing here is I'm all about solutions.

We have seen this debate go on. And, like I said, I fill out reams and reams of paperwork. You would think that Americans after having gone through this process have -- would say, you know what, doing a simple certification is not a difficult thing to do. It is not a big bureaucracy.

(CROSSTALK)

HOEKSTRA: It should take about five or 10 minutes for anybody to prove... (CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: But if you talk about solutions -- if you talk about solutions, does that infer there was a problem? What was the problem to then have this sort of office?

HOEKSTRA: Well, what happened is that you have -- you are still having this debate, this ongoing debate with some people moving this forward.

I'm not participating in that debate. I think that this issue has been settled. And, you know, I just want to make sure that in future elections -- and this is not a top priority for me, OK? This is kind -- it's kind of like, you know, this can take care of itself. This can move forward. And this can be done very easily.

We do it. You know, you certify. We have a background check if you want to buy a gun. If you want to vote, you have to show an I.D. If you want to run for president, you ought to at least be able to demonstrate that you meet the minimum criteria for being president of the United States.

BALDWIN: OK.

HOEKSTRA: This is not that hard. It's a whole lot easier than a lot of the other paperwork that I have to fill out to run for a federal office.

BALDWIN: I understand, I understand. Let me just -- let me turn the conversation to this, because you made national news when you ran this ad in Michigan against your Senate opponent during the Super Bowl. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Michigan Senator Debbie spend- it-now.

Debbie spent so much American money, you borrow more and more from us. Your economy get very weak. Ours get very good. We take your jobs. Thank you, Debbie spend-it-now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Congressman Hoekstra, critics, they called you a racist for that ad.

Do you realize that critics might use this office, this proposal for this office as further proof?

HOEKSTRA: No, I don't know -- no, I don't know why they would call that and take in that direction. Absolutely not.

There's -- excuse me. You're just taking this into an area where I see absolutely no connection at all. When someone runs for office, they certify. Asking them to certify that they meet the requirements for president, what is -- I'm not even going to use the term. It's an outrageous term and it's an outrageous question that you would ask anything like that.

BALDWIN: It's a term -- sir, it's just a term that some of your critics threw out. And we're looking ahead because you have already been criticized for this exact office. And I'm simply asking the question.

(CROSSTALK)

HOEKSTRA: About this proposal that people actually meet the minimum requirements for being the president of the United States of America?

BALDWIN: I'm simply asking the question, sir. And I appreciate it.

Michigan Senate candidate Pete Hoekstra, thanks.

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