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Originally published Wednesday, December 29, 2010 at 4:40 PM

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'King of birthers' to run for president

Andy Martin, a political gadfly who ran for President Obama's former Senate seat in 2010, announced Wednesday in New Hampshire that he will run for the Republican nomination for president on a "birther" platform.

Tribune Washington bureau

HONOLULU — Andy Martin, a political gadfly who ran for President Obama's former Senate seat in 2010, announced Wednesday in New Hampshire that he will run for the Republican nomination for president on a "birther" platform.

Speaking on WTPL-FM radio, Martin cited the stated intention of Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie to settle questions about whether Obama was born in the state as one motivating factor.

As one of the first candidates to announce his candidacy for the White House, Martin said he will force a broader discussion of the issue.

"I'm going to have a tremendous impact on the presidential election, not because I'm the frontrunner. Clearly I'm not," he said. "But I'll be driving the agenda in the Republican Party."

The so-called "birther" movement already had a serious impact in the political landscape in the 2010 elections, Martin said, because "when you doubt the legitimacy of the leader, it undermines the Democratic Party."

Martin, who calls himself the "king of the birthers," said he actually believes Obama was born in Hawaii, as has been verified by the state with a Certificate of Live Birth. But he believes the White House is blocking the release of the president's full birth certificate because it could contain embarrassing information.

"My campaign doesn't say he was born here or he was born there; it says produce the facts," he said. "Tell the truth to the American people. If you want our confidence, if you want our sons and daughters ... to die for your policies, we have to trust you."

Martin spoke with radio host Brian Tilton before he was set to make a formal announcement at the Legislative Office Building near the state Capitol in Concord.

New Hampshire, which hosts the first presidential primary election every four years, prides itself on its meager filing requirements. One simply needs to pay the $1,000 filing fee and complete a declaration of candidacy form. Every four years, political unknowns appear on the ballot along with established heavyweights.

The actual two-week filing period won't take place for at least a year.

Martin described Hawaii's governor as "full of Hawaiian pineapple" for saying, first in an interview with the Tribune Washington bureau, that he hoped to use his new post to "settle" the issue of Obama's birth in the state.

"He's opened up a can of worms," Martin said.

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Abercrombie, a former congressman who says he was friends with Obama's father and mother, did not offer a specific remedy, but his office now says he's working with officials at the state Department of Health and the attorney general to determine what his options might be.

Martin initially planned to announce his candidacy in his home city of Chicago but moved it to New Hampshire because of weather, a news release said. He also said on Tilton's show that he was not a single-issue candidate, and planned to launch a television ad attacking Obama's health-care overhaul.

"I've got a stronger résumé ... than any of these blow-dried candidates that are out there," he said. "We're going to give them hell, as Harry Truman said."

He has a colorful history in Illinois politics, including a 2010 primary campaign for the U.S. Senate in which he accused now-Sen. Mark Kirk of being a homosexual.

Martin has been sanctioned in federal court for filing hundreds of lawsuits and was found unfit to practice law by the Illinois Supreme Court.

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