Speaking at an Aug. 21 Tea Party rally on the state Capitol steps, Republican state Sen. Damon Thayer told the crowd, "We need you to help send (President) Barack Obama back to Chicago or Hawaii, or wherever he wants to go."
When some members of the crowd shouted out, "Kenya," Thayer responded, "I'm not going to say that, but I appreciate your sentiments."
A couple of days later, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told a rally in his home state of Michigan, "No one's ever asked to see my birth certificate."
Romney later claimed it was just a joke and said, "There is no question about where (Obama) was born. He was born in the U.S."
Thayer may have considered his throwaway line just a joke as well. Or maybe not.
But intentional or unintentional, jokes about where Obama was born alienate some voters and help perpetuate among others the suspicion, long discredited but still harbored by some in this country, that he is not really an American and therefore cannot legally hold the office of president.
For some, the suspicion is so strong they act on it.
In early August, Dr. Todd House, a Louisville anesthesiologist and a write-in presidential candidate, filed suit in Franklin Circuit Court claiming Obama is not a "natural born" citizen and therefore not eligible to be on the November ballot. His is not the first such suit and might not be the last. None has been successful, however.
Obama released his birth certificate last year, and state officials in Hawaii consistently have verified the authenticity of his birth records. Still, the suspicion that he is not one of us lives on in the minds of "birthers."
No doubt their suspicions will be reinforced by the recent release of 2016: Obama's America, a supposed documentary doing well at the box office that accuses Obama of running the country based on the socialist ideas of his late father.
There are many issues voters can use to compare Obama and Romney during this fall's campaign. Real issues such as the lingering economic recession and the resulting loss of jobs, tax policy, environmental policy, the continuing war in Afghanistan and health care reform, just to name a few.
But the question of where Obama was born is not a real issue. It was asked and answered the first time around.
Let's get past it because the upcoming decision American voters must make really is no joking matter.