A couple of recent polls have given Republicans hope that Mitt Romney has a shot at taking Michigan this November. But the behavior of former Rep. Pete Hoekstra, the frontrunner in the state's GOP Senate primary, hasn't been encouraging to Republicans hoping to take Michigan Democrat Debbie Stabenow's Senate seat. First, Hoekstra made national headlines earlier this year when his campaign launched a racially-tinged Super Bowl ad against Debbie "SpendItNow." And then came news that Hoekstra, despite saying he believes President Obama is a U.S. citizen, was pandering to "birthers" by calling for a federal panel to establish the citizenship of presidential candidates:

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Pete Hoekstra came under fire Wednesday for proposing a federal panel to vet presidential candidates' qualifications amid a resurgence in the "birther" movement seeking to undermine President Barack Obama.

"I'd like to establish a three-person office in Washington, D.C., OK, knowing it will grow to five," Hoekstra told a tea party rally early this month in Lapeer.

The panel should comprise "an FBI person, maybe a CIA person and one person managing those two people, and just if you want to run for president, you've got to go with the right, proper documentation and go to that person and get it certified that you meet the qualifications to be president of the United States."

Clark Durant, a former Reagan administration official challenging Hoekstra in the GOP primary, responded by saying in a statement: "The idea is silly. Any time a career politician sees a problem, they want to set up some new government agency to fix it. We should be focused on fixing the economy, balancing the budget, and reducing the debt. That means less government, not more."

If Hoekstra's missteps were intended to help him fend off his conservative challengers in the GOP primary, that suggests that Hoekstra, or at least his campaign, holds a dim view of GOP primary voters. The August 7 primary is less than two months away, so it won't be too long until we see if Hoekstra's pandering to birthers ends up backfiring.

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