Montana Democrats Adopt “Birther” Tactics Against Steve Daines

Taking a page from the so-called “birther” movement, the Montana Democratic Party is demanding that U.S. Congressman and U.S. Senate candidate Steve Daines (R) release his birth certificate to the public.

The party is attempting to discredit Daines’ assertion in campaign ads that he is “a fifth generation Montanan.”

“Daines’ latest ad asserts he ‘grew up in Bozeman, a fifth-generation Montanan,’ which directly contradicts earlier versions of his biography when he claimed: ‘I’m a third-generation Montanan, kind of that classic Montana kid.'” states the Montana Democratic Party in a press release.

“The Congressman is so desperate for ties to Montana that he’s confused the facts and himself,” the Democrats’ release continues. “The problem? Daines was actually born in southern California.”

The Democrats are correct that Daines was not actually born in Montana. Daines was born on August 20, 1962 in Van Nuys, CA. However, it appears they are pulling that fact out of context.

According to Daines’ campaign website, the claim that he is a “fifth-generation” Montanan is based on his great-great grandmother who immigrated from Norway to the United States in 1869 and homesteaded near the the small Central Montana town of Conrad. Both of Daines’ parents grew up in Billings and his father graduated from the University of Montana.

The Montana Democratic Party first shared the press release with Politico Magazine who reached out to Daines. According to Politico, Daines spokeswoman, Alee Lockman, explained that Daines was born in California because his parents moved to the state for a job opportunity and returned to Montana when Daines was a small child.

Daines grew up in Bozeman and graduated from Montana State University in 1984. Prior to his political career, he was best known for helping found Right Now Technologies, one of the state’s largest and most successful businesses.

““No matter what generation Congressman Daines claims to be, he’s a stranger to both the facts and Montana values – and Montanans deserve the truth,” stated State Rep. Bryce Bennett (D-Missoula), in the press release.

“Montanans can’t afford a Washington politician who thinks he can get away with fooling the people he’s supposed to represent,” Bennett continued.

Bennett is also known for his time as Political Director of the left-wing group Forward Montana where he, most notably, fought proposals to strengthen the state’s voter identification laws.

The tactic of demanding Congressman Daines’s birth certificate is reminiscent of the “birther” movement that continues to insist President Barack Obama was not actually born in Hawaii, and is therefore ineligible to be president.

Demanding the release of Obama’s long-form birth certificate after Hawaii had provided documentation is a central part of the “birther” campaign.

Montana Democrats’ response to such conspiracy theories about President Obama has been a mix of outrage and claims that they are “a waste of time.”

When a GOP lawmaker introduced a bill during the 2011 Legislature that would require a presidential candidate to provide a birth certificate to the state in order to qualify for the ballot, the Democratic Party responded: “The bill is just another example of Republicans ignoring the critical need for jobs in our state and wasting time with conspiracy theories. This bill will not put one Montanan to work.”