Under the US Constitution, only people born in the United States were allowed to become President, but even when the Obama campaign posted his Certification of Live Birth proving that he was born in Hawaii there was no let up in the rumours. If anything, they only got louder.
Those who claimed Obama was not a "natural born citizen" become known as ‘the birther movement’.
The most commonly-heard claim was that Obama was born in Kenya and was often mentioned alongside the use of Obama’s middle name ‘Hussein’.
The vast majority pushing this theory were on the political far right and most held anti-Black attitudes. One of the most high profile Birthers was Donald J. Trump, who as far back as 2010 began questioning Obama’s citizenship.
The Birther conspiracy was widely believed. A Harris online poll of 2,320 adults, conducted in March 2010, found 25% of respondents believing that Obama was "not born in the United States and so is not eligible to be president."
A CNN poll, three months later, had 16% doubting that Obama was born in the United States, and a further 11% were certain that he was not. While these numbers dropped after the release of Obama’s birth certificate, the Birther sentiment continued to hold sway amongst large sections of the population. Birtherism conspiracies were rekindled in the 2020 Presidential election when Trump deliberately stoked allegations about Kamala Harris’s eligibility to run.