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'Birther' Pains for Dewhurst at GOP Convention

Ben Philpott, KUT News

Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst – a candidate for the U.S. Senate – seemed to be taken off guard today when he was confronted during his speech with shouts from "birthers," people who believe Barack Obama has fooled the nation into electing a foreign national as United States president.

The speech didn’t start well for Dewhurst – an establishment Republican candidate locked in a bitter runoff race with tea party favorite Ted Cruz. People began booing him as he started his speech. Or maybe they were chanting “Cruz.” Or maybe, as Governor Perry suggested after an event yesterday, they were simply chanting, “Dew!” for Dewhurst.

Whatever it was, others in the audience shushed the jeers, and Dewhurst delivered a red meat speech that appeared to be well-received.

But things got uncomfortable as Dewhurst approached the end of his monologue. He announced, “We won’t stop fighting until we send Barack Obama back to Chicago.” The crowd erupted in applause.

Then someone from the crowd yelled, “Back to Kenya!”

Dewhurst seemed to have misheard and replied, “West Virginia? Okay, fine. Fine.”

Several in the audience clarified, “Kenya! Back to Kenya!”

Dewhurst, apparently unsure how to respond to the now discredited implication that President Obama wasn’t born in Hawaii, responded, “Uh oh, Kenya? Ladies and gentlemen.” He paused. And the crowd responded with laughter and applause. Twelve seconds elapsed.

Finally, Dewhurst said, “Wherever he wants to go. That’s fine. Yeah. Yeah. Fine. Perfect. Great. I’m with you. I’m with you.” Wails of laughter could be heard in the background.

Then Dewhurst ended his speech: “I’m honored. God bless you. God bless the great state of Texas. An honor to be with you.”

You can Dewhurst's entire speech by clicking the player above. The exchange begins around 13 minutes in.

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion-dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on X @KUTnathan.
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