Republican Governor's Association Chair Haley Barbour said on Wednesday that he takes President Obama at his word that he is a Christian and that, "as far as" he "knew," Obama was born in the United States.
But in response to some of the more insidious rumormongering about the president, the Mississippi Republican chose a response suggestive enough to grab the attention of the reporters in attendance.
"I don't know why people think what they think," said Barbour. "This is a president that we know less about than any other president in history. But I have no idea why. I accept just totally at face value that he is a Christian. He said so throughout the time he has been in public life. That's good enough for me. Do I think there is a vast right-wing conspiracy? No ma'am."
Asked after the Christian Science Monitor breakfast what he meant by his declaration that little is known about Obama's history, Barbour didn't back away from his remark.
"There is not much known about his time in college," he said. "We don't know if he chopped down a cherry tree. We don't know any of the childhood things we know about Ronald Reagan. I don't say it as an insult or as anything other than an observation. Somebody asked, 'Why would people question things?' We just don't know him."
The governor admitted that he has not read either of Obama's autobiographies but he didn't cite that to account for his lack of knowledge about the president's history. Instead he insisted that records from Obama's past simply haven't been made public.
"You have situations where most people there -- heaven forbid my college records are public -- is in public, you know. For worse or worse, but there are just different things where we knew a whole lot more. Part of it is the fact that he had only been in public office for a brief period of time unlike a lot of people who had long careers in public at least. And so therefore a whole lot more was known about them."
Does he think the president is a natural-born citizen?
"I don't have any such questions. As far as I know. I don't have any such questions."