Did Alabama Sen. Shelby question Obama's citizenship?

The senator reportedly expressed doubt about the president's eligibility for his job; his office denies the story, but a local paper's standing by it.

By Alex Koppelman

Published February 23, 2009 3:15PM (EST)

If you believe what you read, then Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) might be one of the "Birthers" who question whether President Obama meets the Constitution's eligibility requirements for his office. According to the Cullman Times, a local paper, Shelby was asked at a recent event about rumors concerning Obama's birth and citizenship, and replied, "Well his father was Kenyan and they said he was born in Hawaii, but I haven’t seen any birth certificate. You have to be born in America to be president."

Shelby's office is denying the story. His spokesman calls the report is a "distortion" and says what Shelby told the crowd is that "while he hasn't personally seen the President's birth certificate, he is confident that the matter has been thoroughly examined."

The paper is standing by its account, though and -- in what appears to be a show of confidence in its reporter -- asking anyone with video or audio of the event to come forward, and offering to post the evidence to its Web site.

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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Barack Obama Richard C. Shelby R-ala.