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Perry walks back birther comments, says he has 'no doubt' Obama's a citizen

First, it was "no reason to think otherwise." Then it was, "I don't have a clue." Then it was "a distraction."

And on Day Four, it's finally, "I have no doubt."

After days of questions, Texas Gov. Rick Perry said unequivocally that he believes the president is an American citizen.

"I don't think I was expressing doubts," he said of his previous comments about the validity of the president's birth certificate in an interview with Tampa's Bay News 9 to be aired Sunday, per the St. Petersburg Times. "I was just having some fun with Donald Trump."

Asked if he believes President Obama is an American citizen, Perry responded, "I have no doubt about it."

Perry's flirtation with birtherism, which began Sunday in an interview published in Parade Magazine, resulted in at least a partial overshadowing of his rollout of a flat tax-based economic plan in Gray Court, S.C., yesterday. Perry implied that his questions about Obama's birth certificate were meant in "fun" during an interview with CNBC's John Harwood, but he also appeared to sympathize with Trump's skepticism that the president's birth certificate -- which he made public in an April press conference -- is real.

"I don't have a clue about ... what his birth certificate says," Perry told Harwood. "But it's also a great distraction."

But in the interview in Tampa, where Perry held a fundraising event Wednesday, the Texas governor dismissed the whole controversy as a joke.

"It's fun to... Ya know, lighten up," he said.

GOP '12 candidate Rick Perry is now saying he has no doubt President Obama is an American citizen, while Mitt Romney now says he backs Gov. John Kasich, R-Ohio, "110 percent" on a collective bargaining measure.

Perry also challenged his competitors to reveal other personal documents, including college transcripts. (Perry's recently published grades at Texas A&M reflected his academic struggles.)

"Let's lay out our income taxes," he said. "Let's lay out our college transcripts. Mine's been on the front page of the paper. So if we're going to lay out all these things, let's lay them all out.

Here's a partial transcript:

PERRY: "I don't think I was expressing doubts. I was just having some fun with Donald Trump. So I...."

ADAM SMITH, ST. PETE TIMES: Are you comfortable that he's an American citizen?

PERRY: Oh yeah. It's fun to.. Ya know, lighten up.

SMITH: So you have no doubt he's an American citizen?

PERRY: "I have no doubt about it. But here's the more interesting thing. Let's lay out our income taxes. Let's lay out our college transcripts. Mine's been on the front page of the paper. So if we're going to lay out all these things, let's lay them all out."