WASHINGTON — As his competition endured criticism for questioning President Barack Obama’s birthplace, congressional candidate Scott Keadle of North Carolina took the high road last week and said he hadn’t spent “two seconds of my life thinking” about Obama’s birthplace.

But that’s not what Keadle told a tea party group last month in Rowan County, N.C., during a heated primary race for the Republican nomination for North Carolina’s 8th Congressional District.

Keadle, who’s now in a two-man runoff July 17 with former congressional chief of staff Richard Hudson, told the Rowan County Tea Party Patriots in April that he’d demand an investigation into the president’s eligibility, whatever the personal costs.

“If you’ll elect me to Congress, I will absolutely make sure that I don’t shut up until there is an investigation to find out if the president is eligible to be the president,” Keadle told the group, according to a video of the event. “That’s the end of that. And, they can do whatever they want to me.”

Asked about the apparent contradiction, Keadle said Monday that he’d made a mistake, was caught up in the adrenaline of the forum and had failed to qualify his statement. He said he had no intention of pursuing an investigation of Obama’s birthplace unless constituents asked him to.

“I didn’t get it right that day. I didn’t think I got it that bad, but I did,” Keadle said, adding later, “Yes, I do believe he was born in the United States and no, I don’t want to be dragged into the middle of this.”

The birthplace controversy continues to dog congressional candidates in North Carolina. Keadle is the latest to back away from earlier statements. Last week, Hudson acknowledged he’d made a mistake when he said the president was hiding something about his citizenship. Both are running to unseat Democratic Rep. Larry Kissell.

In the 9th Congressional District, Republican Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jim Pendergraph also looked to get past the controversy after earlier telling a reporter he was suspicious of Obama’s birth certificate and that anything could be forged.


(c)2012 the McClatchy Washington Bureau