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Why now? What’s the strategy behind releasing Obama’s birth certificate?

A billboard wonders where the birth certificate is.
A billboard wonders where the birth certificate is.
Natalie Woo/Flickr

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President Obama yesterday released his long-form birth certificate in response to calls from potential Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump. But why now? Democratic strategists long saw the withheld long-form certificate as a political tool for the President, one that made so-called “birthers” appear increasingly apoplectic and ridiculous in the eyes of liberals. Could withholding it until the 2012 presidential race was underway have returned more political punch? Did he create more distraction by not releasing it sooner? Does the long-form version put the doubts to rest and take the attention away from, as he put it, the “sideshows and carnival barkers,” and back on the economy, jobs and Libya?


Michael Shear, Lead writer for The New York Times’s Caucus blog