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Senate candidate says joke does not mean he's a 'birther'

4:53 PM, Nov 7, 2013   |    comments
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KUSA - One of the Republicans hoping to run against Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colorado) in 2014 is defending himself from claims that he is a "birther" conspiracy theorist.

State Sen. Owen Hill is taking fire for a joke caught on tape recently by Democratic operatives that calls into question President Barack Obama's citizenship.

In the audio, leaked to the website Buzzfeed, Hill is speaking to a GOP crowd about his experience working for a Christian charity in the slums of Kenya:

"You spend time out there and little kids are running around barefoot in these kinds of streets and you ask them what they want to be, they want to be an astronaut, they want to be a physicist, a marine biologist, one kid even told me he wanted to be President of the United States. I held back my snarky comment that said 'Well, you know what, we already have someone from Kenya as President of the United States."

The crowd, which Buzzfeed reports was attending a Denver County GOP breakfast on November 1, responds with laughter.

Listen to the audio clip here:

Kyle Forti, a spokesman for Hill's US Senate campaign, tells 9NEWS that Hill does not believe in the "birther" conspiracy, which holds that President Obama was born in Kenya, and therefore is not qualified to hold the office of the Presidency.

Hill declined to be interviewed for this story to explain why he would make such a joke, but in a written statement he called the tactic of recording and releasing the audio "sleazy."

"The fact that my obvious joke is being highlighted today just shows how worried Mark Udall and the Democrats actually are of my campaign for the U.S. Senate here in Colorado," Hill wrote.

Such releases of recordings are nothing new in political circles.

Campaigns and causes have made increasing use of political operatives called "trackers" to follow candidates, recording audio and video in the hopes of catching an embarrassing moment that can be shared.

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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