The Republican Arizona secretary of state told a GOP audience near Phoenix that he believes President Barack Obama was born in Hawaii, but claimed to be born in Kenya in order to get into college.

Secretary of State Ken Bennett said he believes Obama made the Kenya claim to get into college and has had his college records sealed in order to prevent the information from coming out, the Arizona Republic reports. Bennett offered no proof, but claimed Obama has spent millions to have the records sealed.

"I actually think he was fibbing about being born in Kenya when he was trying to get into college and doing things like writing a book and on and on and on.

"So if there was weird stuff going on, I actually think it was happening back in his college days because I think he has spent $1.5 or $2 million through attorneys to have all the college records and all that stuff sealed.

"So if you're spending money to seal something, that's probably where the hanky panky was going on. "

Bennett dialed back on earlier statements that he was seeking Obama's original birth certificate from Hawaii officials, which he claimed he needed in order to place the president on the Arizona ballot. Bennett stressed to his audience that he believes that Obama was born in the U.S.

Bennett, running for governor in the 2014 election, started his speech by calling for the audience to unite behind Mitt Romney's presidential candidacy and "do everything we possibly can to elect Mitt Romney in November," according to a YouTube video of his remarks.

Bennett, Arizona's chief elections officer, said he sought Hawaii's verification of Obama's birth after receiving "thousands" of emails from residents in the wake of claims by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's "posse" that the birth certificate released by the White House may be fake. Bennett said he downloaded a form off the Hawaii website to obtain verification of Obama's birth and paid the filing fee out of pocket. He said Hawaiian officials told him that were considering denying the request, which Bennett complained should not have happened to an Arizona state government official.

Bennett's claim comes amid a series of birther moves nationwide, including a bullet-riddled outhouse with Obama birth certificate markings at last weekend's Montana Republican convention and the GOP-controlled Missouri House of Representatives adopting legislation to require presidential candidates to provide their birth certificates to state election officials. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R), who first appointed Bennett, vetoed legislation similar legislation last year.