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. Anonymous

    Obama is living proof that familiarity breeds contempt. To really get to know Obama is to realize that his only real skill is giving speeches — with a teleprompter.

    In this regard, Obama has a lot in common with Facebook. They are both all about hope and hype. But once you get to actually see the business model, there is nothing left to do but sell short.

    August 24, 2012 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  2. beevee

    'No one ever asked his birth certificate' is not because they trusted Mitt Romney, but they trusted his father who made available several years of tax returns when he sought presidency unlike Mitt Romeny. That is why people are asking for his tax returns and not his birth certificate. Is the joke on him now?

    August 24, 2012 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  3. Tree

    Romney is a BIRTHER..........this man is evil and will do and say anything for a vote.

    August 24, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  4. amy smith

    Obama is living proof that familiarity breeds contempt. To really get to know Obama is to realize that his only real skill is giving speeches — with a teleprompter.

    In this regard, Obama has a lot in common with Facebook. They are both all about hope and hype. But once you get to actually see the business model, there is nothing left to do but sell short.

    August 24, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  5. imvotingforobama

    I'm asking for your tax returns mittens

    August 24, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  6. God_forbid

    Yes, Later and the fact that the economy is in shambles is all Obama's fault. You're clueless Let's not forget the mess he inherited from president $hit for brains. Selective memory perhaps? What kind of person would vote for Romney? The guys a multi-millionaire and he won't release his taxes? Oh, but he paid 13%! Oh boy, that's great! He's too stupid to realize that he should be embarrassed by that statement! Most people pay more than that.

    August 24, 2012 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  7. pthomas

    Politico characterized this as a "joke" also. I am confused as to where to find the "humor" in what he said. I do not see where there was even the potential for humor and this could be interpreted as a joke gone wrong. He was clearly emphazing the (crazy) birther questions. And of course no one has ever had to question his birthplace......He should be ashamed and so should all of those giving him a free pass.

    August 24, 2012 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  8. Ultralance12

    I don't think he meant it like this but to me it sounded like he was saying:

    "No one has questioned that I was born in America. I am white afterall"

    August 24, 2012 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  9. SPE

    Actually the birth certificate issue started with the Hillary campaign/2008. For some strange reason the entire genesis of the "birther" has been shifted over to the GOP/Tea party crowd.
    While there's been plenty on the right who want closure on the birther issue, it was never an issue that started with them.
    Otherwise, how's that economy working out for you all. *11% unemployment and a nation on the brink of bankruptcy, a forced exsistance through gov't dependency via incompetant bureaocracys, and an increasingly evident march into a lower standard of living for all seems pretty cool huh.
    (*Actual unemployment today w/o an underhanded lowering of the participation rate to make The Zero look good.)

    But federal enforcement of gay marriage and free contraception ($9 at Wal-mart btw) for all!! Woo-hoo. Good times.

    August 24, 2012 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  10. Jack bennett

    I still want to see the Obama transcripts. He pulled some scam and doesn't want the world to know what it was. I bet it was a beauty.

    August 24, 2012 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  11. floridabeachdogs

    to those of you wanting tax returns from Mitt....
    where is any of Obama's college transcripts to Occidental, Harvard, or Columbia...where are any term papers or thesis???
    where is this transparency Obama said he would give us and change the way Washington ran?????
    how did a C student even get into Universities??? I goofed off in High School and had Bs and Cs and had to go 1 year to community college before transferring to a University and than get grades good enough for medical school!

    August 24, 2012 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  12. us_1776

    No, MItt, we asked for your tax returns.

    Where are they? 8 years please.

    Thank you,
    The American People

    .

    August 24, 2012 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  13. Willie K.

    Mitt was not born; he was created in a lab by the Koch Companies. He is the Mittbot Model 1.0.

    August 24, 2012 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  14. Jack in Florida

    That's because Mittens is apart of the racist, bigots that make up the Republican Party. Show us your tax returns and tell us about your abortion stance!! TRANSPARANCY, TRANSPARANCY, TRANSPARANCY......

    August 24, 2012 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  15. Tree

    TooClose2DC
    You are not a Independent, you are a lower thinkers. RIGHT WING. Still riding that horse.........
    I

    August 24, 2012 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  16. sayer

    God, please do not let Mitt Romney become the POTUS. Amen.

    August 24, 2012 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  17. REMOVEDHISHOOD

    It's official. Mitt Romney is a birther and he believes the white supremacist talking point that the President is not born in the US. White supremacist have been saying this about blacks for years and now Mitt has revealed his true beliefs.
    Brigham Young taught Mittens very well when he said this "You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, uncomely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind …. Cain slew his brother. Cain might have been killed, and that would have put a termination to that line of human beings. This was not to be, and the Lord put a mark upon him, which is the flat nose and black skin. Trace mankind down to after the flood, and then another curse is pronounced upon the same race—that they should be the ‘servant of servants’; and they will be, until that curse is removed; and the Abolitionists cannot help it, nor in the least alter that decree."

    August 24, 2012 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  18. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    They must be COMPLETELY certain that they will be able to buy their way into the White House this November.
    This statement is nothing but blatant arrogance and a howdy-do come-on-in to the racist Birthers from Romney himself.

    We'll see come November Romney.
    Meanwhile.....show us your tax returns. Where are your tax returns? We'd like to see them.
    Obama 2012. Stand strong and proud America.

    August 24, 2012 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  19. scmom

    This jerk wants to be president to the UNITED states. How many times will he have to explain himself? And tax cheater you need to show your taxes. You have been entitled all your life and people have been doing what you say and cowtowing to you. This is just another whim for you to fulfill since you've made all the money in the world. You do not represent the many faces of America, we don't need you as president.

    August 24, 2012 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  20. Jason McNish

    I want to see your Birth Certificate and your Tax Returns just the same as your father did hopefully you learned something from him he Released more than what was required by Law he must not have had anything to hide do you Mitt what is the Problem?

    August 24, 2012 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  21. g2g

    Romney is crazy. I bet there are records out there from his confinement in a mental hospital. He should release them, too.

    August 24, 2012 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  22. kayla

    but we ask you for your taxes, where is it? you try to be funny, you even look more stupid than funny mr. twitt

    August 24, 2012 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  23. Denise

    Well this proves what people have been saying about Mitts character...Bully! That is the only way he won the Primaries.

    Not exactly Presidential Material unless you like Bullies are Racist and most likely Rich.

    August 24, 2012 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  24. Lynda/Minnesota

    I assume this is the big lead up to the Donald appearing at the Republican Convention? Republicans have you no shame whatsoever?

    And crybaby Priebus is whining about convention media coverage being cut down. Go figure.

    August 24, 2012 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  25. Dan

    You may be a U.S. Citizen Romney, but let's see some proof that you do what other law-abiding ciitzens do and pay their taxes!

    August 24, 2012 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
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