Updated May 22, 2012 - 4:47 pm
Bennett: 'If I embarrassed the state, I apologize'
Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett is at the center of a birther controversy renewal after he consented to request proof of President Obama's citizenship from the state of Hawaii.
"If I embarrassed the state, I apologize," Bennett said of thrusting Arizona back into the birther spotlight, just months after Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said there was probable cause to believe Obama's birth certificate was fraudulent.
Bennett received over 1,200 emails from Arizona citizens requesting Obama's birth certificate to be examined before he is permitted to be on the 2012 presidential ballot.
"I don't see anything wrong with verifying something so that as many Arizonans as possible have confidence that the people that appear on the ballot are entitled to be there," Bennett said in an interview with News/Talk 92.3 KTAR's Mac & Gaydos.
Listen to the full interview by clicking here.
Bennett said the decision to request proof of Obama's citizenship was driven by the emails he received, though he is not personally party to the birthers.
"I believe he was born in Hawaii," he said. "I'm not a birther, which means I do not subscribe to the opinion that he was born somewhere else."
Bennett compared his inquest into journalists double-checking with other sources or patients seeking a second opinion from a different doctor and said that his request has not been made before by the birther movement.
"What is so sacred or untouchable about this question that you can't even ask the question," he said.
Bennett, the head of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's Arizona campaign, said he has looked into obtaining Romney's birth certificate from Michigan, but that he is not requesting the actual documents. Instead, Bennett is asking each state to validate the documents.
"I can ask for this little verification thing from Michigan, just like we did with Hawaii," said Bennett.
Bennett defended himself when accused of pandering to birthers and said the situation puts him in a tough spot either way, as people will think he is either going too far or not far enough.
When asked why Bennett felt that he was answering the call of one-fifteenth of one percent of Arizona citizens, he said he was not doing it for attention, but to assuage the concerns of as many citizens as possible.
"I didn't do this for attention," he said. "If I was doing this for attention, I would have had a press conference when I sent the letter to Hawaii asking for verification. I didn't do any of that. I haven't tried to do draw any attention. I was just trying to do a quiet little step that was provided in Hawaii's law."
A Maricopa County Sheriff's deputy was sent to Hawaii to aid in the birth certificate prove on Tuesday.
Bennett expects the verification from Hawaii to come through by Wednesday or Thursday and that the issue will be pulled off the table.
Bennett said Obama will be on the November ballot after the Democratic National Convention and assuming he fills out the paperwork required for all candidates in Arizona.