Video: U.S. Senate candidate Pete Hoekstra explains his position on 'birther' issue
Related story: Pete Hoekstra becomes a caricature of himself
MACKINAC ISLAND — Republican U.S. Senate candidate Pete Hoekstra is making national headlines again for stirring up the "birther" issue.
Speaking at the Detroit Regional Chamber's annual Mackinac Policy Conference on Wednesday, Hoekstra reiterated his proposal for a federal office to vet presidential candidates' qualifications, including verifying their citizenship.
An uncut video shows Hoekstra's remarks in response to a question from Michigan Public Radio's Rick Pluta.
"You would think that a country as great as ours could have a single person, maybe two, who every four years are assigned with a responsibility of making sure people who run for office meet the minimum qualifications of that office, so that we will never have this discussion again," Hoekstra said in his animated remarks, which were the talk of the island afterward.
Even without mentioning the president by name, Hoekstra once again stirred the debate over whether Barack Obama was really born in the United States — despite repeated assertions from the state of Hawaii that Obama was born there.
The former congressman, who hopes to unseat Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., first told a tea party group earlier this month in Lapeer he wanted to establish a three-person office in Washington, D.C., to vet the qualifications of each presidential candidate. Hoekstra clarified on Wednesday that "they raised the issue," not him.
"They thought it was important. I don't. I think it's the economy, it's jobs," he said. "But those who know me, especially from West Michigan, know that if someone gives me a question I will answer it to the best of my ability. And the answer is this is a crazy issue, put it behind us, move forward, and make sure it never happens again."
Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to AnnArbor.com's email newsletters.