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. Alice

    Yeah, and that's all because your such an All-American Boy and has nothing to do with the fact that the washadoodle wingnuts who were demanding to see your rival's birth certificate were racists from your own party? You're white and Republican, they don't need any other documentation.

    August 24, 2012 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  2. Michael Thompson

    This could very likely go down as the moment that Mitt Romney truly lost the 2012 election.

    No major political candidate who embraces such a fringe theory, (or even uses it in this way), can actually be expected to win the presidency.

    August 24, 2012 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  3. ll

    Mitt Romney values racism more than seniors, women, Independents, the middle class, the poor, students, military/vets...

    August 24, 2012 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  4. Indy

    In his Friday remarks, Romney's reference was to his own birth certificate, not that of Obama.

    If you are downright stupid you might believe Romney but if you are awake today you know this is just another pants on fire lie.Retroactive Romney is now officially a birther.

    Shackles/Chains
    Tomato/Tomato
    Romneyhood/Ryanhood
    Potato/Potato

    August 24, 2012 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  5. MikeB59

    We have asked for your tax returns many, many times.

    August 24, 2012 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  6. Clint

    No way in Hades would I vote for Romney.

    August 24, 2012 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  7. Real Patriot

    If anyone truly believed that a Romney Administration would not be a Tea Party Administration he has just erased all doubt. This might be the most unprincipled man to ever seek the office of the President.

    August 24, 2012 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  8. Joe Gubbins

    Mitt is playing to his base & needed to say this as a way of thanking Donald Thump for his support1

    August 24, 2012 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  9. Dave

    I would just like to see some tax returns.

    August 24, 2012 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  10. Hemlock

    I don't wanna see your birth certificate I wanna see your tax returns.

    August 24, 2012 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  11. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    Way to keep the birther wackos riled up, "Leona" Romney! Where are the tax returns? 63% of Americans want to see them!!! I could give a rip about your birth certificate. Did you get amnesty for tax evasion? That's what I want to know.

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

    Yknow.. cause why would anyone need to see the birth certificate of a white guy...amirite Mitt? High five me bro...

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

    This type of code wording is ridiculous. We get what you mean, Romney, but it is rude and beneath you.

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

    "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." "

    Yikes, talk about deliberately obtuse. The American people are not so thoroughly stupid that they do not comprehend ideas like "subtext" and "context."

    August 24, 2012 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  15. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    No one has ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place that we were born and raised."
    -------------------------------------------------
    He's lost it....AND THE ELECTION.

    Incredible this man is. Completely incredible.

    August 24, 2012 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  16. WILLARD MILTON ROMNEY IS A COWARD & TAX EVADER

    Your dad released 12 years worth of tax returns. You're a tax evading criminal. The apple fell faaaaar away from the tree and dear old dad is rolling over in his grave at the complete failure and disgrace you've become Willard.

    August 24, 2012 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  17. Jason

    Republicans should be calling for Romney's birth certificate. Romney is even hiding his tax returns.

    August 24, 2012 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  18. Mark

    Surprise, surprise. Romney's as big a racist as Trump, only with better hair.

    August 24, 2012 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  19. MNAnonymous!

    Well, show us your tax returns! It's more important!

    August 24, 2012 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  20. DesertDwlr

    Unbelievable. Gee Mitt – I wonder why. Open Mouth – Insert Foot.

    August 24, 2012 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  21. Regina

    He's right, though. I don't want to see his birth certificate. However, I DO want to see his tax returns.

    Mitt Romney is a weak man. We don't need another puppet for the GOP in the White House. We may never recover from the last one (Bush) as it is.

    August 24, 2012 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  22. Rich Parks

    Just numerically specify everything (EVERY LOOPHOLE CUT) your current WONKEY budget will have to cut, and no one will care WHERE, or if, you were born. You got an accountant on the ticket now, GET TO IT... Willy Willard Wonkey, and shut down the vagaries’ factory. Keep blaming that 2yr tax return disclosure delay on others, How many tax cuts do you need to trickle up from the middle class before you can get the barest of tax return minimums presented in a timely fashion?

    August 24, 2012 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  23. Josh

    But many people have asked to see your tax returns, Mitt. You sure aren't helping anyone out there.

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

    OK – I'll be the first. I demand to see Romney's long form birth certificate!

    August 24, 2012 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  25. The Elephant In The Room

    Character is what a person shows when they are in their comfort zone. Mitt Romney is most comfortable trying to blow the racist dog whistle and this is not the 1st time.

    Journalists have given him too many passess. Mitt doesn`t want to discuss any specifics or solutions. He doesn`t want to talk about his running mate`s AND HIS attack on MEDICARE and a woman`s right to manage her health concerns & life. He doesn`t want to talk about what he is hiding in his secretive, offshore bank accounts.

    There isn`t a thinking indepenant voter; male or female; black, white, asian or latino young or senior; that should consider voting for this guy. He will say anything, do anything, to get the "prise" of the Presidency to which he thinks he is entitled.

    August 24, 2012 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
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