October 15th, 2012
02:41 PM ET
6 years ago

Tommy Thompson's son apologizes for 'birther' joke

(CNN) - The campaign for Tommy Thompson said the Senate hopeful's son apologized Monday after making a comment referencing President Barack Obama's birthplace at a campaign event.

Jason Thompson, whose father is running as the GOP nominee in a tight contest in Wisconsin, said it was time to send President Barack Obama "back to" Kenya.

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"The election here in November will chart our course as a country not only for our generation, but our kids' generation. We have the opportunity to send President Obama back to Chicago," Jason Thompson said, before smiling and adding: "Or Kenya."

He made the remark, which was captured on video, while speaking Sunday at the Kenosha County Republican Party fall brunch in Kenosha, Wisconsin. At times, Thompson was interrupted by applause and comments from attendees. Tommy Thompson, a former governor of the state, was not at the event.

In a statement Monday from Tommy Thompson's communications director, the former governor said he talked about the remark with his son.

"The Governor has addressed this with his son, just like any father would do. Jason Thompson said something he should not have, and he apologizes," Lisa Boothe emailed said in a statement to CNN.

The comment comes as the latest public nod to the so-called birther controversy. Last year, Obama released his long-form birth certificate from Hawaii to quell speculation that he was not a U.S. citizen and may be constitutionally ineligible to serve as president. He has previously released a certification of live birth during the 2008 campaign. Both documents show that he was born in a Hawaii hospital on August 4, 1961. Contemporaneously published newspaper announcements also noted the birth in the Aloha State.

Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus was also in attendance at the event. Priebus has repeatedly shot down birther jokes in the past, referring to them as distractions for the party.

Thompson is running against Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin in a highly competitive race. A CBS/New York Times/Quinnipiac survey released last week showed Baldwin edged Thompson by two percentage points, a margin well within the sampling error.

Filed under: 2012 • President Obama • Senate • Tommy Thompson • Wisconsin
soundoff (67 Responses)
  1. Sue

    This is so typical of republican behavior. They make these remarks that are blatantly false and show their arrogance but when confronted they immediately back-pedal and deny. When they have cameras and microphones nearby they say whatever will make them look good and sound electable. But it's what they say when they are with friends and supporters that prove their true thoughts. The 'birther' and '47%' comments are just two examples of their contempt for the American peope and the president. Arrogant, sneaky and sly are all prized republican tactics. We don't need this in the White House or representing us to the world.

    October 15, 2012 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  2. Joi Gibson

    Imagine my surprise!!! Kind of like the Romeny campaign, he says one thing and then the "campaign" comes back to clarify. If Mr. Thompson had no problem making the so-called joke, then he should have no problem personally apologizing and not doing it through his daddy through a statement.

    This birther nonsense is out of control.


    October 15, 2012 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  3. Kate

    Priebus called it out of line. Are you kidding me??

    Asking a woman when she's due, if you don't know whether or not she's pregnant, that's out of line.

    This? This is straight-up RACISM.

    This deserves a firestorm-after watching time and again, while the extreme right wing twists Obama's words into something unhinged from the facts and then feigns outrage over their construction, THIS deserves a firestorm. You don't even have to add anything to it. Outright racism.

    Well, as the nation's old white men shrink further and further into the minority in this country, they are digging a nice warm hole for themselves.

    October 15, 2012 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  4. chilly g

    wisconsin we need you to support the president, the number reason the economy is slow to recover is because the
    republicans has done everything they could to keep the economy down because that is they main of defeating the
    president.once the president is reelected me and my wife will celebrite for two week.

    October 15, 2012 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  5. incredulous

    This wasn't a joke it was racist hate speech.

    October 15, 2012 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  6. anonoymous

    How sad....As an afro american I am so glad to hear positive comments on this blog topic. No matter our political differences just remember our children are listening. Proof here that they repeat what they hear good or bad. No matter how old they are. I dont feel any malice for those kind of comments. Just makes it easier to decide who to vote for or not.

    October 15, 2012 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  7. Shawn in MD

    Gary Inman, you said:

    People we all know that Obama was born in Kenya. We have a chance to return the White House to the American people.
    #1. Gary, the White House IS with the American people as of now
    #2. People like Gary, who were born in Africa and immigrated illegally should not comment on American politics

    October 15, 2012 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  8. Mary Ann

    The apple didn't fall far from the tree.Another generation of stupid republicans.

    October 15, 2012 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  9. Lionel

    This is racist and disgusting. Kind of reminds of Republicans throw peanuts at a black reporter and saying "this is how we feed animals"

    Not all Republicans are RACIST but all Racist are Republicans and for that reason, I will never vote Republican again.

    Americans, do you really want to be associated with or vote for a party that have folks like this.

    Obama / Biden 2012

    October 15, 2012 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  10. Michael Dishnow

    Here is one old white male who is ashamed of the behavior of so many of my fellow old white males and many of their spouses as well. There is little question that there is thinly veiled racism here. It will only get worse as WE shrink in numbers and power. The answer to this dilemma is actually quite easy. We can all "grow up", mature a bit, and accept diversity for the strength that it brings to us (as our stated American ideals would suggest). I have made friends around the globe and am the better man for it. Doing the same within my own society is of equal value. Wake up folks.

    October 15, 2012 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  11. anonoymous

    At point do these lames aplogzies begin to become unacceptable? News flash there cameras everywhere! Why dont they ever get caught saying something nice? just a thought.

    October 15, 2012 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  12. Malcolm in St Louis

    Back to Kenya is code for back to Africa, a racist comment (red meat) that was intended for the all white republican crowd. No respect for the office.

    October 15, 2012 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  13. Thomas

    Like Father , like Son.

    Romney went to france , his sons helped him on his campaign !
    Job Creators don't need to serve in the military !

    October 15, 2012 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  14. Low key

    @Gary Inman
    People we all know that Obama was born in Kenya. We have a chance to return the White House to the American people.Romney/Ryan 2012
    What do you mean White house to the American People please explain who the American People are? This is unclear. The president is an American. Maybe you mean back to the Indians naw that would be to easy. What do you really mean. 🙂

    October 15, 2012 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |

    This is coming from the partythat says the President is dividing the country. You clearly see which party is spreading hate ad division. Willard won't stand up to them. He simply joins along with the haters. "No one has never asked to see my birth certificate." Is that PRESIDENTIAL????

    October 15, 2012 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  16. ThinkAgain: Hey, networks, fact-check the debates in real-time and put it in the crawl!

    Apparently stoopid runs in the Thompson family ...

    October 15, 2012 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  17. Lando

    There is a saying....like father like son....
    Thompson....you are finish...kaput...done..goodbye

    October 15, 2012 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  18. judy Buss

    this is totally discusting, this guy is a lawyer, he meant what he said, what a bunch of hypocrites & racist these guys are and not one of them in congress has a bit of gumption or concience to step up to these idiots, no wonder their rating is so low, it is time to get rid of the likes of them, especially Mitch McConnel & hs groupies!

    October 15, 2012 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  19. Don't Vote For A Snake Oil Salesman

    @Gary Inman, trace you forefathers. Guess what one of them was a former slave.

    October 15, 2012 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  20. GrogInOhio

    This wasn't a "birther joke". It's a "Back to Africa" racist muttering. Calling it a "birther joke" highly diminishes the true fetidness of the comment.

    October 15, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  21. judy Buss

    Low Key, you are a sick individua, giving the White house to Romney means catering to the wealthy in this country, not the American citizen, on top of that you can count on being in another war in 6 mo time!!! Sure that's who we need in the White house someone that's been privilaged all his life & hasn't a clue how everyday citizens live or work. Naturally his so called patritisim didn't include any of his sons serving in the military, that's beneath him!!!!!!!! your jus a loser..........l

    October 15, 2012 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  22. Debbie

    He's just trying to appeal to the birther-ists. There are a large number of voters that believe that the president was born in Kenya. He is just trying to appeal to them.
    It's sick. It's wrong. And it's calculated.

    October 16, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  23. SC

    Only a foolish would screw a father's chance. Hope the sons/daughters of the rest of the GOP potentials would follow suit Jason. Good luck to President Obama for the next term with both chambers of the Congress with democratic majority.

    October 16, 2012 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  24. CBR

    People don't just blurt out something like that. It had to be on his mind and he has probably talked about this issue before. Whether his Dad did is another question. Certainly this young man knows that anything he says will be judged and if it is controversial in any way it will be front page news. It was and his father got some publicity as well.

    October 16, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  25. ritmocojo

    The apple/tree adage comes to mind here.

    October 16, 2012 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
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