Iowa GOP may debate ‘birther' plank at state convention June 16

Proposal would require candidates to show proof of being a 'natural born citizen'

UPDATED: Iowa Republicans will meet June 16 to elect delegates to their national convention and debate whether candidates, such as President Obama., should have to prove their citizenship before being nominated.

A proposed plank in the Iowa GOP platform calls for presidential candidates to “show proof of being a ‘natural born citizen’ of the United States” before their name is placed in nomination.

The plank came up from the grassroots, from the local precinct caucuses, according to Don Racheter, chairman of the platform committee. It’s an acknowledgement that many Republicans think Obama is not a “natural born citizen” because his father was Kenyan. Some people believe Obama doesn’t meet the constitutional requirements to serve as president.

Racheter conceded the plank is a “shot” at the Democratic president who is seeking a second term.

However, he rejected the idea that it's a "birther" plank.

"It does not assert that Obama is not a citizen, but rather makes the point that he does not meet the very special eligibility requirement written into the Constitution in paragraph five of Article II by the Founding Fathers that only pertains to people seeking the presidency," Racheter said. He cited requirements that "both your parents must be citizens of the U.S. at the time of your birth, which everyone agrees Obama's father was not."

Although passage of the 14th amendment to give citizenship to those born as slaves, it did not change this section of the Constitution, Racheter said.

"There has been no such amendment, and there has been no clear Supreme Court decision on this special point, so the general understanding of what a natural born citizen was common at t he time of the adoption of the Constitution must hold," he said.

Another plank that may provoke a spirited debate calls for state party officials to remain neutral in primaries. Several members of the State Central Committee publicly backed candidates in the 2012 precinct caucuses. Some party members feel that is inappropriate, Racheter said.

Overall, the proposed platform reflects many of the positions promoted by GOP presidential hopeful and Texas U.S. Rep. Ron Paul. Many of his backers pushed the planks at their caucuses as well as county and district conventions.

Approximately 2,500 delegates are eligible to participate in the convention which convenes at 9:30 a.m. at Hy-Vee Hall in Des Moines.

The Iowa Democratic party also will be having its state convention in Des Moines June 16. Democrats will meet at the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center (Vets Auditorium).

Much of the business of the convention, such as electing a slate of 13 national convention delegates, is perfunctory. The proposed national convention delegates are: Gov. Terry Branstad, Boone; Margaret Stoldorf, Montgomery; Sen. Chuck Grassley, Butler; Michelle Bullock, Polk; James Mills, Floyd; Steve Anders, Pottawattamie; Roger Leahy, Jefferson; Mark Hansen, Pottawattamie; Will Johnson, Dubuque; Lexy Nuzum, Madison; Andrea Bie, Allamakee; David Fischer, Polk; and Drew Ivers, Hamilton.

The will join 12 delegates – three from each of the four congressional districts – who will be elected on Friday night. All told, Iowa will send 28 delegates to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., in August.

Also on Saturday, the convention will elect Iowa’s members of the Republican National Convention. Steve Scheffler of West Des Moines is seeking another term, but is being challenged by David Chung of Cedar Rapids. Rep. Kim Pearson of Pleasant Hill is the only announced candidate for national committeewoman. The current member, Kim Lehman is not seeking re-election.

Many of the state’s top GOP elected officials – Branstad, Grassley and other congressional and statewide officeholders – are scheduled to speak to the convention.

For more on the convention, including the proposed platform, visit

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