A spokeswoman for Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) repeatedly declined Monday to say whether or not the congressman believes President Barack Obama is an American citizen, telling TPM it's a "moot point."
TPM reached out to Farenthold's office after a video surfaced showing Farenthold telling a birther at a town hall last week that Congress should have done more to investigate Obama's birth certificate, lamenting that "the horse is already out of the barn" on the issue. Birthers generally believe in a widely debunked conspiracy theory that Obama is not a natural born citizen and, because of that, is ineligible to be President.
The congressman also told the constituent that the House likely has sufficient support to impeach the President, but it would be a fruitless effort because the Senate would never back a conviction.
“I mean, obviously, this is a comment that is being taken a little bit out of context and a little bit blown out of proportion. As a representative, he is compassionate to every issue that any of his constituents bring up," Farenthold's spokeswoman Meaghan Cronin told TPM by phone. "Whether he necessarily agrees with the sentiment or not, his answer is always that he will certainly look into it. That’s his job, representing his constituency. He was responding that he would look into it. If you watch the whole video, he says at the very beginning the horse is out of the bag on this issue, as in this is a story that’s already come and gone.”
Cronin was asked if Farenthold believes there are merits to the debunked conspiracy theory that Obama's birth certificate is fraudulent.
“All I can say is that he was, like he would with any constituent, saying that he would look into it," Cronin said. "The time has passed, so it’s like, ‘why even deal with it at this point?’ It’s a moot point basically. It’s a constituent that he was being compassionate to, one of that was in a series of four or five town hall meetings back-to-back. Whether it’s something he agrees with or doesn’t, his job as a member of Congress holding these open forums is to listen to whatever people bring before him.”
But is Farenthold a "birther"?
"I think that issue has come and passed. His comments on the video are what we’re going with,” Cronin said.
TPM pressed further, but Cronin maintained her line.
"I can keep repeating myself," she said. "He was responding to a constituent, like he would answer anybody.”