The facts, clearly, do not matter to some. Obama was born in Hawaii, case closed. The case is so closed, in fact, that Hawaii's Republican governor, Lisa Lingle, recently signed a law allowing state officials to ignore repeated requests for the president's birth certificate from misguided birthers.
Nevertheless, the president's citizenship is an open question to the tea partiers I spoke with at the rally yesterday. "I have my doubts," Jack Smith, a tea partier from Georgia, told me. "He needs to show us the documents."
Smith also gave me the "Obama couldn't even get a driver's license" spiel. Other tea partiers I talked with told a similar tale.
The president's faith was another topic for debate at the rally today. This is perhaps less surprising than the persistence of the birther rumor, considering that polls show doubting Obama's Christianity is a growing phenomenon. More than one sign (here's the reverse side on that last one) suggested Obama's faith is not what he says it is, and tea partiers in attendance were more than happy to be less subtle in conversation.
Like Shelly Ehret, who traveled to the rally from Ohio. "I don't know," she told me when I asked her if Obama is a Christian. "Only God can know for sure what's in his heart."
Smith said he didn't know about Obama's faith either. But, in the end, he said Obama potentially hiding his Islamic background was less important than the birth certificate stuff.
"He may do that," Smith said when I asked if Obama lies about his faith. "But I don't care." Smith said that it doesn't matter if Obama is a Muslim, "as long as he doesn't act on it."
There's nothing in the Constitution about what faith the president has to be, Smith said. The same can't be said for Consitutional citizenship requirements. The reason why faith takes a backseat to birth is simple, Smith told me, gesturing to the tea partiers gathered around him.
"We really do care about the Constitution," he said.