Updated: May 22, 2012, 7:01 PM
After days of ridicule for launching a conspiracy theory-fueled investigation into Barack Obama’s birth certificate, Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett on Tuesday backed off his threat to keep the president off the ballot in November and apologized to his state.
“If I embarrassed the state, I apologize, but that certainly wasn’t my intent,” Bennett said in an interview with Phoenix radio station KTAR. “He’ll be on the ballot as long as he fills out the same paperwork and does the same things that everybody else has.”
Bennett said he still intends to keep asking Hawaii for verification that Obama’s birth certificate is authentic. But he said he only plans to use Hawaii’s answer as a way to satisfy demands from constituents who remain unconvinced Obama is a natural born citizen of the United States and so therefore eligible to be president.
He also said he talked to Hawaii’s attorney general on Monday night and clarified what he is looking to have verified. He said he “reworded” his request and expects to receive a response from Hawaii officials “in the next 24 to 48 hours.”
Last week, Bennett told a different Phoenix radio station it was “possible” he would keep Obama off the state’s ballot in November if Hawaii did not provide him with a satisfactory answers to his investigation.
On Tuesday, Bennett told talk show hosts Mac Watson and Larry Gaydos he had no idea about the wave of criticism he endure get after launching his investigation into the president’s birth certificate. He said again that he doesn’t consider himself a birther and he believes the president was born in Hawaii but he did this to satisfy a small number of vocal people who kept sending him angry emails about it.
“I feel like I was just trying to glue the far little corner of the carpet down,” Bennett said. “And as soon as you just touch the carpet, the whole floor buckles.”
Nick Martin is an associate editor at TPM in New York City. He came to the site in 2011 as a reporter for TPMMuckraker. Previously, he worked in Arizona, first as a staff reporter for a local newspaper and later as a freelance journalist. He also ran the news blog Heat City. Contact him: nick [at] talkingpointsmemo.com