Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) backed away on Friday from the support he seemed to express for birtherism at a town hall earlier in the week, with his spokeswoman telling TPM the lawmaker simply "misspoke" at the time.
Mullin's spokeswoman talked to TPM after multiple reports surfaced with videos showing the freshman congressman telling a woman who was preaching the birther conspiracy theory at his town hall in Afton, Okla., "I believe what you’re saying."
"No, no, he’s never been a birther," spokeswoman Ashley Kehl said. "He’s never proclaimed to be a birther or supportive of that.”
Kehl initially said the quote had been "taken out of context," and blamed it on the website Think Progress, which had published the video online.
The video showed Mullin being confronted by a woman who presented documents alleging that President Barack Obama's birth certificate is fraudulent. Birthers believe in a widely-debunked conspiracy theory that insists Obama is not a natural born citizen of the U.S. and so is therefore ineligible to be president. Although Mullin told the woman that it was a "dead issue" following Obama's victory in last year's election, he appeared to signal that he was receptive to her argument.
"ThinkProgress, who initially posted the video, has never supported causes that my boss has participated in or legislation that he’s supported. They’ve never been a supporter of Markwayne Mullin," Kehl said. "And so, for us, we’re considering the source as to how they are trying to paint my boss is as a birther. And those comments were taken out of context and that is not who he is.”
When TPM pointed out that another, unedited version of Mullin's exchange was also available online, Kehl said she would review the footage in order to provide "a better answer.” About an hour later, she provided an amended response.
“I re-watched the video and the congressman just misspoke," she told TPM. "He doesn’t support the birther argument. He just misspoke when he said that. He, however, did not misspeak when he said, 'I do not support this President whatsoever.'"