No laugh track needed: Romney in Kalamazoo
February 24th, 2012
10:03 PM ET
11 years ago

No laugh track needed: Romney in Kalamazoo

Kalamazoo, Michigan (CNN) - Aspiring comedians, take note: When in doubt, seek humor in unlikely places.

For Mitt Romney on Friday, that meant telling a joke about his father's gravesite, one of several quips he tossed off in a free-wheeling town hall forum in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

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The GOP candidate sparked laughter throughout his Western Michigan University event, and comfortably fielded sober questions on issues ranging from his China policy to a woman who questioned his integrity.

Romney began his speech by pitching the good value on gravesites in Brighton, Michigan, explaining that his parents were buried there.

He said his father, former Michigan Gov. George Romney, announced one day he had picked out a gravesite in Brighton – to his family's initial confusion.

"We didn't live in Brighton," Romney said, poking fun at his father's frugality. "It's like, how did you pick Brighton, Dad? 'Well – best price I could find in the whole state.'"

"So if you're looking for the best deal on a gravesite, check Brighton," Romney said to surprised laughter. "They've got a good spot – you're near the former governor and the former first lady!"

Later, when asked whether he would fund planetary exploration as president, Romney said he would study different options. Then he ended his response with another wisecrack about China's planned moon mission.

"Some people say, 'Oh, we've got to get to the moon, we've got to get there in a hurry to prove we can get there before China,'" Romney mimicked. "It's like, guys, we were there a long time ago, all right? And when you get there, would you bring back some of the stuff we left?"

In between the humor, Romney answered serious questions. He acknowledged rising gas prices were largely driven by international supply-and-demand, but said he would encourage domestic drilling as president.

And a woman asked the former Massachusetts governor whether voters could trust him given his reversal on the issue of abortion rights.

"Why should we regard you as a man of high standards and integrity when you have flip-flopped on your position regarding the sanctity of life? You turned your back on your Mormon religion's pro-life stance," she said.

While Romney admitted: "I was pro-life," he immediately assured the audience he has since changed his position and has long opposed abortion rights.

He invoked a Republican idol to describe other conservatives who had come late to the cause.

"Ronald Reagan was pro-choice before he became pro-life," he said.

As he wrapped up the forum, Romney followed a comedian's central tenet and left the crowd laughing.

The candidate told the audience he was being signaled by a staffer to wrap up.

"I won't make the sign of the cut-off because there's a lot of cameras around here and that'll be used against me down the road, just like Michael Dukakis's hat in that tank," Romney said in reference to an embarrassing and indelible image that damaged a former Massachusetts presidential candidate. "There's some things you just cannot do in politics anymore."

Also see:

Maher puts one-million dollars behind pro-Obama Super PAC

Romney says Obama will 'divide 1% vs. 99%'

Specter disputes Santorum account of support

Axelrod on GOP candidates: 'All hat, no cattle'

Filed under: 2012 • Michigan • Mitt Romney
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Larry L

    He slammed the auto industry. How can Michigan forget that fact?

    February 24, 2012 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  2. Melo-D

    Oh Willard, lame jokes can't save your doomed campaign. The biggest joke is that you think you can be president. Now that's pretty funny.

    February 24, 2012 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  3. MaryM

    To little to late

    February 24, 2012 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  4. Name Rob Keating

    Romney is a phony who has no integrity. He's not a conservative Republican, or anything close to it. He only wins when he mischaracterizes his opponents. Hopefully the people in Michigan, and other upcoming states, will see him for who he is. Vote Santorum!!!

    February 24, 2012 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  5. Mitt Romney is out of touch!

    Mitt Romney economic speech in Detroit was an epic failure and the picture is worth a thousand words.

    February 24, 2012 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  6. marcy harris

    Finally the real Mitt. He is appropriately serious on serious matters but very funny–off the cuff humorous.

    February 24, 2012 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  7. Charlie from the North

    Would you buy a used car from that man? I wouldn't.

    February 24, 2012 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  8. T'sah from Virginia

    ROTFLMAO – Not at how funny MITTens is – but at how much he is not!!!

    Obama 2012!

    February 24, 2012 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  9. Larry in Houston

    He's right on 1 thing : Reagan was Pro-choice – then changed to Pro – Life – when he was running for office. They ALL change – in office – or OUT of office –

    February 24, 2012 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  10. Just Wondering

    Mitt said, he would cut federal worker pay, raise the Medicare age, and he wouldn't have supportf the auto bail-out, he is probably against teachers and policemen. Who is left to vote?

    February 24, 2012 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  11. madmaninthemiddle

    My father worked in a graveyard as a kid. It was an important job. He had a lot of people under him.

    February 25, 2012 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
  12. Thomas

    A couple of Cadillacs.

    I like Trees, there the right size.

    And the Lakes, love m .

    February 25, 2012 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
  13. George

    What a laff riot! One of the richest guys in the country picking out cheap gravesites. Hilarious!

    Romney must be getting pretty desperate, and the embedded reporters must be getting pretty darn bored. I can hardly stay awake listening to Romney tell us that we have to vote for him because he is so much richer than anybody else. I would have loved to see his campaign advisor's face when Rommey boasted about giving his wife two Cadillacs...

    February 25, 2012 01:04 am at 1:04 am |
  14. Don

    As I watched Romney in Kalamazoo, I noticed that Romney finally started acting like his dad, George Romney. George Romney was so respected, a great politician and a great man. He would warm up crowds by his mere presence. Obama doesn't know what he's up against if he's going to have to go against George Romney Jr. Romney was brilliant and made everyone feel excited that he was their candidate and their statesman. Obama better do something fast because if this is what Obama has to face, Obama will lose as much as McCain lost to him.

    February 25, 2012 01:43 am at 1:43 am |
  15. dp

    When will someone tell the republicans what the country needs is less private equity and outsourcing of jobs and less cutting and more paying by those on the top. If one looks at what Bill Clinton did and what the buffoonery of 8 years of a republican president did. Also is it not just surprising how the big bank failure occurred just at the end of the Bush presidency and we are not attempting to saddle the current president with this mess.

    What Romney has is no clue about anything. He has four cars four houses and bets 10K with a governor from Texas who makes only 192K per year working for Texas. What a pompous primadonna of private equity. Seriously get a clue Mitt.

    February 25, 2012 06:08 am at 6:08 am |

    Plastic man,trying to get over,anyway he can.

    February 25, 2012 06:56 am at 6:56 am |
  17. clarke

    He should keep his day job.

    February 25, 2012 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  18. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    What is ironic is that Michigan could bury Mittens' hope at becoming president.

    February 25, 2012 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  19. diridi

    Bain capital, KB Toys, watch on youtube, when mitt romney came to town...enjoy..

    February 25, 2012 07:56 am at 7:56 am |