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. Iamnotfooled

    This is what a desperate man does when he has NO PLAN for this country only FALSE Promises. Brings up distractions.

    August 24, 2012 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  2. Mark

    I will never vote for a CULTIST. Go back to your "temple" and pray to your "god" of deceit (taxes), racism (Mormons priesthood to Blacks until the 70's due on racist Mormon "theology"), and greed (shady corporate shells / foreign accounts).

    August 24, 2012 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  3. Sean

    Of course no one hasn't. He's white and his name is Anglo-Saxon.

    August 24, 2012 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  4. Really?

    LOL @ the idiots cheering in the background. Definitely not the brightest bulbs in the box.

    August 24, 2012 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  5. Log Cabin

    Why should we trust Romney? I want to see his birth certificate!

    August 24, 2012 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  6. dwighthuth

    Romney does not have any room to be making jokes about anything.

    I was watching a video about one of the employees of one of Romney's companies that he closed. Because of Romney's greedfull lust the man and woman were not able to afford healthcare to treat the cancer that the mans wife had. When she finally brought it up it was far too late to do anything about it. If Romney had not closed down the company then the womans cancer would have been caught in time and would have been treated.

    A real CEO would sit down with his Executive Officers to go through the employees to find out if anyone needed medical treatment before he closed a plant down. Those who need treatment would then receive the treatment they needed.

    There is an old saying "Treat people very well on your way up the ladder, because if you fall who do you think is going to be there?"

    August 24, 2012 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  7. SOUTHERN HOTTIE

    The GOP establishment and adherents have no credibility with reality. Too bad.

    August 24, 2012 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  8. Pete

    of course no one has asked to see Mittens' birht certificate. 1) He's white and 2) more importantly his Democratic opponents aren't a bunch of racist, paranoid, xenophobic, Islamophobic @holes

    August 24, 2012 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  9. Mark

    I will never vote for a CULTIST. Go back to your "temple" to gain more deceit (taxes), racism (Mormons priesthood to Blacks until the 70's due on racist Mormon "theology"), and greed (corporate shells / foreign accounts).

    August 24, 2012 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  10. once upon a horse

    when you have a campaign built upon lies (the welfare lie, the Medicare 716 lie et al) hey why not appeal to the birther bunch in your party. Kinda fits don't it?

    August 24, 2012 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  11. lmc2011

    Obama stated last week that Miltt should show his medical records. Amazing since Obama has not shown his. If Mitt has made enough money that he needs a Swiss account I'm all for it. He's the man that can get us out of Obamadebt!!!!

    August 24, 2012 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  12. craig

    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."

    I hear a lot of questions about whether Rmoney ever tells the truth. Unfortunately, there's no paper anywhere that can tell us. Fortunately, all we have to do is listen to him and we quickly know the answer. No!

    August 24, 2012 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  13. tootiepie2

    This is crazy, Mitt thinks he can "joke" about this issue? Does he not know that there are a bunch of right-wing nut jobs out here, just waiting for any reason to start the stupid chant of, "I want to see his birth certificate"? I know Mitt's desperate and is willing to do ANYTHING to get elected, but to start this nonsense up again is just sad. SMH

    August 24, 2012 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  14. livingston

    He sounds like that person we all have had to deal with at one time or another. As soon as they get someones attention they fall in love with their own voice and start to spout really stupid crap because they think they are funny. Sad really. That or now he is going for another 0% approval rating, this time with likely intelligent voters.

    August 24, 2012 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  15. JJ

    well for Lauri Pierce of Midland, you hear a lot of questions about whether all the people in Michigan are complete idots, or just the ones who go to Romney events. "You don't know, but you hear questions."

    August 24, 2012 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  16. JSL

    Hawyee ain't A STATE!!! Its a iLand!!...I lerned it from fokcs news.

    August 24, 2012 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  17. Don Garritano

    Hey Mitt, c'mon. Yes, people are complaining that you're too stiff and aloof and you need to lighten up a little but did you have to go with the birth certificate joke? Hey Obama campaign: did you really need to feign injury find a way to respond to something that is a dead issue and resurrect it yourself? I'm self employed and I would like nothing better than if both sides would figure out a way to help people spend more money which would help me make more money.
    My income depends directly on a homeowner's ability to invest in their home and people are still too unsure about the future. Let's go: tell me something I don't know.

    August 24, 2012 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  18. dunnrj

    My, what a very white crowd Romney has around him - as usual. Where's the rest of America? Kudos to the Democrats for embracing ALL Americans - and not trying to block them from voting.

    August 24, 2012 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  19. Chris

    Is the fact that one's comments were made "without prepared remarks" really a legitimate excuse. Do you think I can use that excuse with my wife?.

    August 24, 2012 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  20. Oh Boy

    Their desperate and they know it.

    August 24, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  21. Thomas

    I love it when Mitt Romney jokes about how his five sons avoided voluntary military service , how it's cheeper to out source the cannon fodder to the middle class.

    August 24, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  22. sayquitter

    Is clear these clowns are joking when they question pres Obama's birthplace. He is almost at the end of his first term in office and about to begin his second and we hear all these whiners still cry about if,
    Yet the sane voters, those who know better are convinced of his nationality. No democrat congressman has ever questioned the americanness of pres Obama, and you woulld thing they would be the first to raise the issue, or be accussed of covering up for him.

    August 24, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  23. Kareen

    At least Obama knows for sure who his mother was.
    I wonder If Romney can say the same. Was ist wife # 1, 2, 3 4 ?

    August 24, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  24. Creaux

    Yeah and nobody ever asked Obama to see his tax records

    August 24, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  25. fekt

    it's called pandering. in this case he's pandering to crazy people who believe the president is part of a secret muslim conspiracy to destroy the united states that started when he was 6 or so. so if that's the boat you want to sail on go join team romney.

    August 24, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
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