Schweighart Becomes YouTube Celebrity with Obama Comments
Champaign Mayor Jerry Schweighart's comments doubting that President Barack Obama was born in the U-S have led one local Democrat to call for his resignation.
That's the response of Alan Kurtz, a Champaign Democrat and County Board member ... after a brief video clip of the Republican Schweighart at Thursday's Tea Party rally in Champaign showed up on YouTube. The clip records Schweighart answering an unnamed intervewer's question about whether he believes Obama was born in Hawaii:
Interviewer: What do you think of President Obama? Schweighart: I don't think he's an American, personally. Interviewer: You don't think he's American? Do you think he was born in Kenya? Schweighart: You know, if you're not willing to produce an original certificate, like a birth certificate, then you've got something to hide. If he doesn't have something to hide, produce it. Interviewer: So Obama's not a citizen. Schweighart: I don't think so.
Kurtz says he thinks Schweighart's opinion limits his effectiveness as mayor.
"I think it puts him in a unique position of not supporting our president, of speaking without understanding the true facts of the case", says Kurtz. The Champaign Democrat says he thinks Schweighart's opinions are also out of line, because Champaign city officials are elected on a non-partisan basis.
But a Democrat on the city council, Michael LaDue, says that's up to the voters to decide. LaDue says he was surprised to hear Schweighart's comment, because he thought the question of Obama's birthplace was pretty much played out. But he doesn't think the comments reflect on the mayor's ability to lead.
"It's not a local theme", says LaDue. "It's an opinion expressed by a citizen exercising the rights that American citizens enjoy and cherish."
LaDue says Schweighart has been an effective mayor, and he considers calls for his resignation as "over the top" as the mayor's original comments.
Illinois Public Media could not reach Schweighart for comment Friday. But the mayor told the News-Gazette that he stands by the comments, except for one point he wished to clarify --- that he does believe Barack Obama is a U-S citizen, and that he just doubts if he's native-born.