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Woodbury man goes in search of Romney's birth records

Woodbury resident Jim Grinols, shown here in a January 2012 photo from a local GOP caucus event, has requested Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan release their birth records. Bulletin file photo

Jim Grinols subscribes to Ronald Reagan's motto: trust but verify.

That's why the Woodbury man is seeking something he believes has never been requested before in American history. Grinols, one of 10 nominated Minnesotan electors for the Republican Party, is requesting the original birth certificates from GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney and running mate Paul Ryan.

"Each elector has the particular responsibility to assure that the candidate of his or her party is constitutionally eligible," Grinols wrote in a letter mailed this week to Romney.

Grinols said he has no suspicion to believe neither Romney nor Ryan meet the criteria for office, "but I'm into trust but verify."

He said the issue was crystallized recently when he took his son to get his driver's license. Grinols' son was turned away after supplying the state with a print-off of his birth certificate he obtained on the Internet.

"If this is what's required for a driver's license in Minnesota, this is what also should be required for a presidential candidate," he said.

Federal law requires presidential candidates to be at least 35 years old, be natural-born United States citizens and to have lived in the country for at least 14 years.

So Grinols is asking Romney to turn over his bona fides.

"To fulfill these constitutional obligations, I am formally requesting ... that you provide me with your paper, full form official certificate of birth with raised seal from the place of your birth," Grinols' letter states.

As one of the people entrusted with casting an electoral ballot in the event of a Romney victory, Grinols said it's incumbent upon him - and other electors - to be assured of the president's papers. Presidential electors - members of the Electoral College - must swear that their candidate meets all the criteria required under the Constitution.

"This is the reason I ran to be an elector for the Minnesota Republican Party," Grinols said.

He admitted the issue was borne of the so-called "birther" movement that has challenged the legitimacy of President Barack Obama's stated birthplace.

Grinols noted, however, that his effort to secure the GOP candidates' official birth records is not connected to those seeking Obama's.

Rather, he called it "a birther issue ... for all candidates."

"I have no idea where Barack Obama was born any more than I know where Mitt Romney was born," Grinols said. "People should forget about whether this relates to Barack Obama."

Still, he said the Obama-birth issue did give rise to his quest to seek out GOP birth records.

"It became apparent to me that this is something Electoral College needs to do," Grinols said. "Democrats should be doing that, too."

Kelly Fenton, deputy chairwoman for the Minnesota Republican Party, said she knows Grinols but was unaware that he was pursuing the records.

She noted the state party was not connected with Grinols' effort.

"As an individual citizen, I guess he has freedom of speech," said Fenton, a Woodbury resident.

Instead, she said she wants activists and delegates to focus their time on helping get candidates elected.

"That, to me, is the priority right now," Fenton said.

Grinols said he floated the idea to other conventioneers last month when he attended the Republican National Convention in Tampa Bay, Fla., as a guest. Of the 100 delegates and alternates he said he consulted on the idea, every one of them agreed "that this was a topic that was important."

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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