In his first interview since being sworn in as Speaker of the House, John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Thursday he personally didn't believe the conspiracy theories about President Barack Obama's citizenship raised in an outburst inside the lower chamber, but declined to speak out more forcefully against the rumors, saying he wouldn't tell other Republicans "what to think."
NBC News' Brian Williams asked Boehner whether he felt any "responsibility" for a woman yelling "except Obama" and "help us Jesus" while a congressman was reading a segment of the Constitution regarding citizenship eligibility requirements for the Office of President.
"Brian, when you come to the Congress of the United States, there are 435 of us," Boehner said. "We're nothing more than a slice of America. People come, regardless of party labels, they come with all kinds of beliefs and ideas. It's the melting pot of America. It's not up to me to tell them what to think."
Despite Boehner's reluctance to control the fringe elements of his party who believe that Obama wasn't born in the United States, in his mind, he said, the matter is settled.
"The state of Hawaii has said that President Obama was born there," Boehner said. "That's good enough for me."
Boehner also dismissed the birther theories during a 2009 flareup that culminated in the introduction of the "Presidential Eligibility Act" focusing on Obama's birth certificate -- a piece of legislation supported by 11 House Republicans.
Politico reported at the time:
When pressed by another reporter as to whether he had any doubts that Obama was born in Hawaii, Boehner had a curt, one-word answer: "No."
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