President Obama released his long-form birth certificate today in an attempt to squash the persistent controversy over whether or not he was born in the United States. The political move comes after new Republican hopeful, Donald Trump, went on a media blitz trying to cast a doubt over the Obama’s legitimacy as president. Democratic consultant Phil Singer said, “This is a non-issue that for whatever reason takes up space that would otherwise be dedicated to the good things that the president is doing, so it makes every piece of sense in the world to try to take the issue off the table.”

President Obama with hand to head

Image via whitehouse.gov

Seriously? Does no one see the issue in releasing this now?

According to a Gallup Poll released Monday, 24% of respondents said Obama was probably or definitely born in another country. 18% said he was probably born in the United States. These numbers show that the idea of Obama not actually being a natural-born citizen has grown considerable traction thanks to Trump and others from the Republican party. Even with the submission of evidence, the effects of the controversy cannot as easily done away with as holding a press conference.

Giving in to the naysayers, actually feeds into the hands of potential candidate Donald Trump. Trump appeared, confidence brimming, in a conference after Obama’s where he applauded himself for forcing the president to prove himself. Obama meanwhile, looks like a president who was unable to handle hecklers with insubstantial arguments. You could also raise the argument that this move was only fitting Obama’s personal interests as he revs up his reelection campaign, especially when there are issues like the national debt on the table that have nothing to do with the Birther Movement. Obama’s communications team has let the president appear weak before, like during his media tour for healthcare reform where he worried voters by discussing how difficult it would be to pass legislation. A move he would later have to mitigate in a press conference by assuring the American public he would do everything in his power to get the bill passed. This example sums it all up, Obama’s communications team lets issues go now hoping they’ll die down, and thinks strategically later. In today’s world, public relations professionals cannot afford to do this. We need to take the knowledge of our industry, discover the flaws and possible controversies, and plan NOW. You have to have the strategic media plan developed now, with systems in place, so you can deploy it if a controversy evolves.

The best PR tactic for Obama?  He should have either released the long-form certificate during his election campaign OR practiced what he preaches and shown how he was focusing on only major issues rather than using a press conference to simply say he was.

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