For Perry, like other Republicans tagged with this line of questioning, it has been all lose-lose.  An open-minded response to the eligibility question alienates the establishment, and backpedaling alienates the rank and file.  To spare future candidates the anxiety, I have structured an imaginary back-and-forth between Herman Cain and Anderson Cooper (in bold).

If I could sum up the strategy in three words, it would be this: take the offensive.  Cooper’s questions, by the way, are based in part on actual interviews he has done in the past.

To say there is significant evidence that the president was not born in America is just false (a real Cooper question).

As they say on Jeopardy, Anderson, could you put that in the form of a question, please?

Mr. Cain, do you really believe Barack Obama was not born in America?

Let me concentrate on what I know, Anderson, not on what I believe or don’t believe.  The story that the president told in his book, Dreams from My Father — the story that he repeated at both conventions and repeats to this day about the first few years of his life — is false.  Anderson, do you know how it is false?

No, enlighten me.

As recently as Father’s Day, the president was telling America that his father left the family when he was two years old.  He has been repeating this for years even though it is not true.

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