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. Thatguy371

    Anyone with half a brain knows what Romney meant. And of course there are still repubs out there skeptical of Obama's birth certificate. I wonder what it's like to be part of the most divisive group of people in over 100 years? A group that commonly refers to themselves as 'patriots'. Delusional twits.

    August 24, 2012 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  2. SOUTHERN SNOTTIE

    tired of the GOP nonsense – Romney is giving a nod to the birthers
    ================================================
    Do you really think he had to? They are safely in the bag Romney was just yanking on Obama's, and all you libtards, chain. I LOVE it!! Keep up the good work Romney. If you're driving the lefties nuts you're on the right path!

    August 24, 2012 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  3. SirBo

    Every four years this nation is awash in a sustained and emplified wave of divisive rhetoric. In reality we're no different, and in essence we all want the same thing: An adequate existence for the duration of our short passage on Earth.
    We create and work hard to establish differences, the goal of which is to conquer. What is needed is more love and less hatred, for " Love is the most powerful force on Earth, more enduring than hatred or the un-natural divisions of mankind ".

    August 24, 2012 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  4. SOUTHERN HOTTIE

    @SOUTHERN SNOTTIE
    tired of the GOP nonsense – Romney is giving a nod to the birthers
    ================================================
    Do you really think he had to? They are safely in the bag Romney was just yanking on Obama's, and all you libtards, chain. I LOVE it!! Keep up the good work Romney. If you're driving the lefties nuts you're on the right path!

    August 24, 2012 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
    ************************************************************************************************************************

    Get help. Seriously.

    August 24, 2012 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  5. Chris

    What do you expect from the guy who introduced Paul Ryan as "the next President of the United States." Oh, and tax forms...please!!!

    August 24, 2012 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    'tired of the GOP nonsense – Romney is giving a nod to the birthers
    ================================================
    Do you really think he had to? They are safely in the bag Romney was just yanking on Obama's, and all you libtards, chain. I LOVE it!! Keep up the good work Romney. If you're driving the lefties nuts you're on the right path!"

    It offends the people who are not "in the bag" one way or the other. The birther crap is reviled by the vast majority of Americans and INDEPENDENTS. You would do well to step outside the conservative extremist echo chamber once in a while.

    August 24, 2012 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  7. reaperfearer

    President Obama proved he was a citizen. Man up, Romney, and prove to us that you pay taxes.

    August 24, 2012 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  8. Max

    Divisive???

    Romney has proven to be the DIVISIVE presidential candidate ever...why doesn't he just QUIT???

    August 24, 2012 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  9. Denise A

    Wow ! Really...their were three nuns behind Romney clapping on his remark...The Republican Party is going to send this Nation to Hell in a basket...I believe Biden when he said, " we will be back in chains"...and it WAS MEANT for all MIDDLE and LOW INCOME AMERICANS... it was a figure of speech...the Republican Party is digging their own grave hope they kept digging ! ALL REPUBLIICANS NEED TO STICK TO THE SCRIPT PLEASE ! WE KNOW YOU DON'T CARE FOR THE MIDDLE AND LOW INCOME AMERICANS,WOMEN RIGHTS,HEALTH CARE, JOBS(ONLY IF BENIFITS YOUR POCKETS) ECT;...To be highly educated is a shame not to show, A LITTLE COMMON SENSE ONCE IN A WHILE ! VOTE OBAMA FOR OUR NATIONS SAKE !

    August 24, 2012 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  10. sara

    Any "admirable" decent American should reject this from a candidate who wants to be president of the United States.

    The man doesn't have any morals or principals in his bones. He will stoop to any level to be president. That he WON'T
    Ok, since you were "born" in America...........Show those TAX RETURNS that every presidential candidate has done for decades.......and since your daddy was born in Mexico, please Show your birth certificate. Willard is a JOKE and so are is Policies.

    August 24, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  11. donna rochester

    The "birthers" are the same people as the "flat earthers" and those who deny global warming. Hasn't everyone now begun to understand that most Republicans are total idiots. Remember Santorum's inane remark that Obama was a "snob" because he believed everyone should have the opportunity to go to college. The big money behind the Republican party wants to keep people ignorant so they can continue to rob this country.

    August 24, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  12. Ex-GOP Con

    ================
    Mitt Romney chose a Friday campaign rally in Michigan, the state where he was born, to make reference to the highly charged and controversial "birther" movement, joking that "no one has ever asked to see my birth certificate."
    ================

    Well duh....the Republicans RINOs didn't ask because you're white. The Democrats didn't ask because they're not nutters.

    August 24, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  13. sjlucas

    Just another example of Mitt Romney showing that he is willing to pander to the lowest common denominators within the GOP in order to get votes. Too bad for you Mitt, the votes up for grab are in the center (not on the fringes).

    August 24, 2012 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  14. Rick

    Hmmm I wonder was Mitt saying that because he is a WHITE man he knows he was born here instead of being brought here. No white canidate has ever been questioned of there birth place.

    August 24, 2012 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  15. ThinkAgain: Mittens 'n' Munster are Liars

    "Throughout this campaign, Governor Romney has embraced the most strident voices in his party instead of standing up to them," LaBolt said.

    Mittens hasn't stood up because he's a panty-waisted wuss!

    August 24, 2012 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  16. Sniffit

    "“Dr. Willke is a leading voice within the pro-life community and will be an important surrogate for Governor Romney's pro-life and pro-family agenda,” the Romney campaign said in an October 2007 statement." Press Release, Romney Campaign October, 2007"

    Indeed. This guy sells the junk medical theory that real rape results in the female body being unable to conceive AND HE HAS HAD PERSONAL, PRIVATE SIT-DOWNS WITH MITTENS DURING THIS CAMPAIGN. Why is this not a story? Because the MSM wants to prevent THAT Much damage from happening to Mittens. A little is ok...some he-said-she-said to liven it up and keep things sensational....but "Mittens met secretly with the one doctor in America who rejects the vast professional consensus of his fellow obstetricians and gynecologists by preaching that rape makes pregnancy impossible"...that's too much factual damage. Gotta carry the water and do damage control for him on that one.

    August 24, 2012 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  17. Ty

    Where is a good sink hole when you need one?

    August 24, 2012 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  18. DocHollywood

    Why would you (CNN) headline this as a "joke"? There was no joke in this. He's pandering to the dark side of ignorance when he refers to this. He's saying he's (Romney) is one of "us", and by inference, Obama is not. I could care less where Romney was born, I wouldn't vote for anyone in the leadership of this party because this party preys on fear, ignorance and hate. They make me ashamed to be a citizen of the same country as they are.

    August 24, 2012 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  19. Tom Joad

    Romney was speaking just a few miles from where he attended a priviliged Cranbrook Academy prep school where he honed his fine charachter by bullying long haired kids who were smaller than himself. Most of the folks here in the Detroit area don't consider the Mittster as a native son-but rather an extremist right wing punk.

    August 24, 2012 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  20. amlcpamaine

    Romney's just showing (again) his lack of class. He's been raised to believe that he can afford anything he wants, even respect - because he has wealth.

    August 24, 2012 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  21. dssman

    Obviously the racial hatred hatred of thisPresident continues from the party of hate. Now we see the true state of this candidate which again proves his inability to be the President of the United States. Unless you are a racist don't vote for this man.

    August 24, 2012 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  22. Obama

    Stupid and proves he's NOT ready for leadership......

    August 24, 2012 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  23. Buck Nakit

    I wish Mittens was as comfortable discussing his taxes. He knows that people have insisted repeatedly to see his taxes and he just won't show them. Because he knows that the moronic GOP base that in general fits the profile of Joe the Plumber (education and income wise) would never elect this magic underwear wearing tax cheating employee firing flip flopper!

    August 24, 2012 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  24. NAVYGIRL

    Stupid comment. He was not referring to where he was born, yet making a jab at the President. Only the lunatic fringe believe that the President wasn't born here. And seriously, is there going to be an educated speaker of substance at their convention? Trump? Arpaio?

    And hey, Southern Snottie, adding "tard" to any word is offensive and played out.

    August 24, 2012 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  25. Nietodarwin

    Of course I dislike the GOP, and any party that would FORCE A WOMAN TO GIVE BIRTH TO THE CHILD OF HER RAPIST, but this just isn't smart politics, Romney is the least intelligent candidate ever. He is a joke to many of his own party already, this will just alienate more people. Like Ted Turner ( a man who also made LOTS of money,) "Christians are losers."

    August 24, 2012 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
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