August 24th, 2012
12:49 PM ET
2 years ago

Romney goes THERE: 'Birther' joke raises conspiracy theory

Commerce, Michigan (CNN) - Mitt Romney denied in an interview Friday that his reference to a highly charged political symbol - a birth certificate – was anything more than simply of homecoming humor.

"No, no, not a swipe," Romney said in the CBS interview referring to President Obama and the conspiracy theories over whether he was born in the United States. "I've said throughout the campaign that and before, there's no question about where he was born."

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"He was born in the U.S. This was fun about us and coming home, and humor - you know, we've got to have a little humor in the campaign as well," Romney continued.

Of course, humor needs a punch-line or it's not a joke.

It was a Friday campaign rally in Michigan, the state where Romney was born, where he chose to say, "Ann was born at Henry Ford hospital, I was born at Harper hospital. No one has ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place that we were born and raised."

A fringe of conservative Republicans continue to believe that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States. Those in that movement are referred to as "birthers."

A certification of live birth released by Obama during the 2008 campaign, and then the long-form certificate released by the White House in the spring of 2011, both stated the president was born in a Hawaii hospital on August 4, 1961. Contemporaneously published newspaper announcements also noted the birth in the Aloha State. Only "natural born" citizens of the United States are eligible to be president.

Romney said in the interview that the comment was some much-needed humor in this fiery campaign.

"Well we're in Michigan and Ann and I were both born in Detroit, and of course a little humor always goes a long way," Romney said. "So it was great to be home, to be in a place where Ann and I had grown up and the crowd loved it and got a good laugh."

But Obama's campaign was not laughing.

"Throughout this campaign, Governor Romney has embraced the most strident voices in his party instead of standing up to them," spokesman Ben LaBolt said in a statement after the campaign stop, but before the interview.

"It's one thing to give the stage in Tampa to Donald Trump, Sheriff Arpaio, and Kris Kobach. But Governor Romney's decision to directly enlist himself in the birther movement should give pause to any rational voter across America."

LaBolt's statement referenced some of the highest-profile figures who continue to perpetuate the "birther" line, including Donald Trump, who earlier this year endorsed Romney and has said he will have a high-profile role at the Republican National Convention next week. Trump increased the drumbeat for the White House to release Obama's long-form in the spring of 2011, just prior to its release. Despite the document being in the public sphere, Trump has continued to question Obama's birthplace in media appearances and in social media posts.

Romney senior adviser Kevin Madden said after the candidate's remarks, "The governor has always said, and has repeatedly said, he believes the president was born here in the United States. He was only referencing that Michigan, where he is campaigning today, is the state where he himself was born and raised."

Another aide noted that Romney "wasn't using prepared remarks."

In his Friday remarks, Romney's reference was to his own birth certificate, not that of Obama. Nevertheless, the crowd roared when Romney made the quip, and many supporters afterwards said they remained skeptical about where Obama was born.

"I thought it was great because why should we have to worry about whether the president has a birth certificate or not," Guy Myers of Clarkston, Michigan, said.

Another supporter, Lauri Pierce of Midland, said it drew a contrast for her between Romney and Obama.

"Well Mitt's from Michigan. There's no question about where he's from," Pierce said. "And you hear a lot of questions about Obama. You don't know, but you hear questions."

CNN's Rachel Streitfeld, Jim Acosta and Gregory Wallace contributed to this report.


Filed under: 2012 • Michigan • Mitt Romney
soundoff (1,152 Responses)
  1. Guy Bailey

    I doubt he'd show it to you even if you asked him!

    August 24, 2012 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  2. Fair is Fair

    I want to see it... full disclosure.

    August 24, 2012 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  3. Malory Archer

    Seriously dude, do you REALLY think that's an appropriate topic? And now that you mention it, considering your dad was Mexican and lived in Mexico for many years, we HAVE been asking for you BC for months on end. You just chose to not hear us.

    August 24, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  4. LiberatedSoul

    "In his Friday remarks, Romney's reference was to his own birth certificate, not that of Obama" – yeah right. then why mention it?

    August 24, 2012 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  5. Kevin

    No, Mr. Romney, we're not asking for your birth certificate.

    But we are asking to see your tax records. How are those coming?

    August 24, 2012 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  6. Rudy NYC

    They will ask to see it once officially have the nomination, Mitt. It has something to do with eligibility requirements as defined in the US Constitution. It's part of the process of how the Congress certifies the election results.

    August 24, 2012 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  7. WILLARD MILTON ROMNEY IS A COWARD & TAX EVADER

    But we have asked you to release more taxes. By the way, we'd also like to see your Mormon under garments. How about we go further into your churchs' ideology Willard. How they think black people are cursed. How you can't marry outside the Mormon church. Sounds like a cult to me. No one ever accused the President of holding them down because they were gay and then cutting their hair off. Do you really want to go there you tax evading criminal? Bring it on!!!

    August 24, 2012 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  8. Name Debbi

    Obama's birth certificate has been out
    There for a while,

    I just want to see his Tax returns for
    The last 5 years!!

    August 24, 2012 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  9. Greg

    Let's see your birth certificate AND your last 10 years tax returns.

    August 24, 2012 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  10. ST

    Hey Mitt, we are not interested in your birth certificate. We know you were born somewhere on earth and this will not affect our lives. What we are interested in is your Tax Returns. This will affect a lot of us, as we want to know before we cast our votes, how did you deal with your personal taxes, which will give us a full picture whether you will be able to deal with taxes for the entire nation.

    August 24, 2012 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  11. Bob

    Rmoney needs to cough up those tax forms, bub, AND a birth certificate. After all, his family abandoned this country to move to Mexico... some patriot.

    Let's see those papers, Mexican Mitt.

    August 24, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  12. Rudy NYC

    "Ann was born at Henry Ford hospital, I was born at Harper hospital. No one has ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place that we were born and raised."
    ---------------–
    Can anyone tell me who the "they" are that Romney is referring to here? It sounds like he's talkng about birthers.

    August 24, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  13. Marcia Greenwood, IN

    Why is it that the Rep accuse Obama of being a Communist because he wants to raise taxes on the rich-saying it is redistribution of wealth-what about the redistribution of wealth from the middle class to the rich over the last 30 years in the hope it would "trickle down".Romney will not show his tax returns, shows no plan in his plans he mentions just saying"I know how to create jobs" and refuses to talk abortion planks of the Rep party-Whet kind of President would this man make?? In his first day he would take the US back to the 1950's and lower his taxes to less than 1%. I am beginning to think his run for the POTUS is just a tax avoidance scheme

    August 24, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  14. Jean2

    WHERE ARE HIS TAX RETURNS , WHAT WILL THEY SHOW? That is the question to be answered.

    August 24, 2012 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  15. GunnerGA

    Romney is full of BS if he believes it was not meant to reference Obama. ANY reference to a birth certificate in this campaign is a direct challenge on Obama's Citizenship regardless of who is making the comment and about whom they are making it. It is statements like this which show that Romney has no true moral center and will say anything his advisers feel will garner the votes to elect him - even if he has to stoop into the sewer with veiled racism. The fact that he cannot simply stay consistent on any position should alarm anyone considering voting for him.

    And everyone should be asking – Why would John McCain choose Sarah Palin over Mitt Romney? What was in the tax returns he provided McCain that disqualified him from the Vice Presidential nomination? Romney WAS the pick until he was thoroughly vetted... then bumped for Palin "the most qualified" pick for McCain. Think about that before you vote for Romney.

    August 24, 2012 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  16. Say No to Willard Romney Hood and Personhood Ann Ryand

    But tax returns, on the other hand....what's Willard hiding?

    August 24, 2012 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  17. Susan

    Romney should be President and lead our country back to properity. Get out of the handout lines and get yourself back to work. Romney and Ryan for good leadership. Good speech in Milford......go GOP go!

    August 24, 2012 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  18. drake mallard

    The blind trust is an age old ruse, if you will, which is to
    say, you can always tell a blind trust what it can and can not do. You
    give a blind trust rules

    i want to see romney birth certificate and his taxes

    Anyone in their right mind can't vote Romney.

    George Romney resisted releasing a single year of taxes, arguing that it wouldn't present an accurate picture...but then he made a surprising offer: He would release the past 12 years of tax returns...That way, it wouldn't look like a stunt

    romeny=PRO-Vietnam War in the 1960's and was encouraging other people's sons to
    go over to Vietnam, and then he becomes a Draft Dodger! Instead of
    serving in the War he was promoting, he went and hid out in France.
    Disgusting.

    August 24, 2012 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  19. Misterg

    I don't want to see your birth certificate.I want to see your taxes!

    August 24, 2012 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  20. BlkPwr817

    But many American including some from his own party has continuously asked to see his TAXES...lol GOP & the loyal fans love to complain about media distractions. When in fact the GOP has a serious case of "slip lip" (Akin) They have brought this on themselves & continue to pour salt into their own wounds...Soon They'll Understand!

    August 24, 2012 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  21. Amobius

    Wow Mitt, you really going to throw in a birther comment to try to woo voters?

    August 24, 2012 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  22. Age of Fools.....

    We don't know much about Gov Romney...this is what we hear over and over....yet after almost four years in the White House....How much do we really know about Obama? During the 2008 Primaries and the General-election..whenever Obama was questioned about his background..all we got back another of Obama's famous speeches..."Oh can this man speak" and nobody questioned any further....perhaps now Obama needs to answer the unanswered that he keeps so secret...on another note...re-Romney taxes...Well if his Lawyers and Accountants took all the loopholes to lower Romney tax-rate..."GOOD" all done within the legal-framwork that Sen Harry Reid thought-up and enacted into law...and so now even Pres Obama cannot...ridicule Gov Romney for which Pres did not own-up to pluck-up all the loopholes...!

    August 24, 2012 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  23. beau

    Show me the last 5 years of your Tax returns???????????????

    August 24, 2012 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  24. chris

    It is a shame for R to said that. He can not show his tax papers.

    August 24, 2012 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  25. WILLARD MILTON ROMNEY IS A COWARD & TAX EVADER

    "The governor has always said, and has repeatedly said, he believes the president was born here in the United States. He was only referencing that Michigan, where he is campaigning today, is the state where he himself was born and raised."
    -----------------------------------------
    That's not what he was referencing. He specifically said what he said to suggest that no one has ever questioned if he was American or not. People can read thru the BS. I'm not sure if Willard was born in the U.S. I thought he arose from the bottomless pit.

    August 24, 2012 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
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