PHOENIX - Secretary of State Ken Bennett will not verify the birth records of Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, at least not now - and possibly not ever - despite an earlier public commitment to do so.
Bennett said Thursday that he has received requests from Arizona residents to perform the same kind of verification through Michigan about Romney's birth certificate as he did through Hawaii for President Obama. And he acknowledged he had agreed to make such a check if he got a request.
But Bennett is now saying he needs something else: an allegation by an Arizona law enforcement agency that there is a question about the veracity of a candidate's claimed birth certificate.
He said that was always a precondition of looking into Romney or anyone else. He just never disclosed it before.
There has been only one such allegation, the one questioning Obama's birth certificate by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Department. And Bennett said since there are no others, he feels no need to dig any further into any of Romney's documents.
Last month, Bennett said he had received many requests to verify Obama is a "natural born citizen" and constitutionally qualified to be president. He said he would not demand Hawaii produce the actual birth certificate, but instead would rely on a provision in that state's law that allows an official in any other state to seek certification a document exists.
Bennett, the state's chief election official, said at the time he was not singling out the Democratic president for special treatment but was simply responding to a constituent request, and he would do the same thing "if somebody asked me to verify the Libertarian candidate or Mitt Romney or whoever it might end up being."
But on Thursday, Bennett - who supports Romney's bid to oust Obama - said he sees requests to check the Republican's birth records as nothing more than politics. "I think the only reason that people are asking about Romney's (birth certificate) is because they're mad that I asked about the president's," Bennett said.
In March, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio charged that a forensic examination showed the birth certificate the White House posted on its website is a fraud. Arpaio said there are no plans for a similar examination of a copy of the Romney birth certificate that the presumptive Republican nominee released Wednesday, because Arpaio doesn't suspect it's fraudulent.
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