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Champaign Mayor On Obama: "I don't think he's American"

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Apr 17, 2010 4:15PM

Amidst the usual claims at Tea Party rallies on Thursday that President Obama was both a Socialist and a Marxist, the Birther conspiracy raised its ugly head once again. In an interview conducted during a Tax Day Tea Party and posted on the internet, Champaign mayor Jerry Schweighart expressed doubt about President Obama's citizenship, saying, "I don't think he's American, personally."

While it may seem similar, this incident isn't quite the same "gotcha!" moment a la the Phil Hare incident from a few weeks ago. Though he claimed the interviewer was a University of Illinois student who was attending the rally as a counter-protester, when quizzed about the comments by the AP, Schweighart stood by his original comment, saying, "Oh sure. My stand, and I don't understand why everybody is so upset, is he's never shown the original birth certificate." Perhaps most telling is Schweighart's own admission that he didn't know very much about Obama until he became president.

The mayor said he doesn't know Obama, though years ago he shared a table with him at a Champaign event where Obama spoke. Schweighart said he had no particular awareness of Obama as a politician — much less concern about him — before the former senator from Illinois became president.

The Capitol Fax's Rich Miller gives us a little bit more context on Schweighart and his feelings on the federal government.