Carney invokes birtherism in response to scandal questions

White House press secretary Jay Carney speaks to reporters about the so-called "sequester" at the White House in Washington February 28, 2013. (Credit: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque) White House spokesman Jay Carney (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Struggling with a reporter about which Republican concerns are and are not legitimate, White House spokesman Jay Carney said that if reporters are going to ask about every issue, they should include President Obama's birth certificate.

Carney was defending senior White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer, who on Sunday described the scandals Obama is dealing with as "partisan fishing expeditions."

Carney argued that the focus on the Benghazi talking points was "provably and demonstrably political," and that Republicans had made "outlandish statements" about the IRS targeting conservatives "and tried to politicize this right away." When CBS News' Major Garrett asked whether questions about the AP investigation were partisan, Carney acknowledged that Congress might have "legitimate questions" on that or other issues.

So Garrett followed up and asked if questions related to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius's fundraising for the Affordable Care Act were also legitimate. Carney grew irritated and responded by referencing conspiracy theories about the president's birthplace.

"You know, we could go down the list of questions — we could say, what about the president's birth certificate? Were that — was that legitimate?" Carney responded.

He went on to answer the question, saying that there was precedent for what Sebelius is doing and that it was within her authority "to encourage support for educational efforts related to health care."

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.
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