August 24th, 2012
12:49 PM ET
10 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. Diana Baskin

    No, but they did ask for your taxes and you didn't show them. If you don't want to be attacked on non-issues don't attack Obama on them.

    August 24, 2012 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  2. Bob

    His campaign's claim that Romney doesn't subscribe to the the birther's garbage is belied by his pandering to that ilk. What a disgrace.

    August 24, 2012 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  3. Zevon

    Wow, that crowd really has a lot of durrrrrr in the face.

    August 24, 2012 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  4. Charlie

    Of course he hasn't heard anything about being asked for his Mexican, err...I mean American Birth Certificate. He just hangs out with Teapublicans who hang on every syllable he utters.

    They would never question their Lord and Master!

    August 24, 2012 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  5. Boisepoet

    Wasn't Mitt the one last week that was deploring this type of thing?
    What a hypocrite...hope he loses big, as in by the time the polls close in Hawaii he's already having to give his concession speech.

    August 24, 2012 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  6. Wes Scott

    In typical GOP fashion Romney makes a statement of thinly veiled racism, and then claims that he was only talking about HIS own birth certificate. Other than the allusion to the false claims of the teabaggers and other charlatans (The Donald, for one) about Obama's birth certificate there would be no reason to even mention his own birth certificate.

    Talking about Obama's birth certificate helps Obama, not the nutcases in the GOP. Talking about Akin's and the GOP's opposition to abortion even in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother helps Obama, not the nutcases in the GOP. Talking about Romney's tax returns only helps Obama, not the nutcases in the GOP. So here's the deal – you guys keep talking about Obama's birth certificate and we will keep talking about Akin, and about Romney's tax returns. Fair enough?

    August 24, 2012 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  7. Dan

    It was a joke that's all it was !! Peiople there is no need to be so sensitive or overly dramatic about such minor issues and all poliiticians included please start focussing on the larger issues of growing the economy , creating jobs and managing the debt.

    August 24, 2012 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  8. roger

    This whole campaign is an embarrassment. I'm ashamed that this country has stooped to this low level.

    August 24, 2012 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  9. Silly Baggers!

    Romney is right but we have asked to the tax returns. Feel free to show them anytime just as the President released his long form.

    August 24, 2012 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  10. Everyman

    Obama: "No one is asking about my tax returns"

    August 24, 2012 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  11. Mario

    But we have asked to see your taxes...why not make a snarky comment about that? Double standard? You see, people questioned Obama and he wants to be transparent with the people so he showed them everything he had with respect to his birth certificate and also taxes. What are you hiding? Seriously, you're flip-flopping...when running against Kennedy you were absolutely appalled that he didn't release his, now what? What would your father say...geesh...

    August 24, 2012 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  12. Jim Hahn

    Tax returns are more pertinent to how truthful you are being (not!) Mitt.

    August 24, 2012 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  13. Terry Moore

    Mr about the weirdos that your party seems to generate, the Akins, the Heads, the Limbaughs, the Coulters, the Perrys..How about your tenure at Bain Cap. where you laid off more Americans than ultimately necessary, sent jobos overseas... Do you think that the management of a country is the same as that of a company... What, you want the US of A to show a profit..?.. Well why don't you start by paying a fair share of income tax... A fair share Mr Romney.. Why do you hang on this old trickle down economics theory, proven time and over to essentially benefit the rich..? Why don't you separate Church and State as they rightly should be ? Why do I feel that I am writing to a dinosaur ? Unfortunately, your species will not vanish...

    August 24, 2012 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  14. M

    Well... there goes the political strategy of tacking back to the center.

    August 24, 2012 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  15. scmom

    People for the last time, showing your birth certificate is not a prerequisite for being president. No one else has ever been harrassed like this not even mitt's daddy and he definitely was not born here and he ran for president. You give an awful lot of power to President Obama to plan all this from birth. He got through the vetting process you know he had to go through. But you want a lying, cheating tax evader and draft dodger all these things that go against everything that is american. Unfreaking believable.

    August 24, 2012 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  16. Dan

    Tax Returns are what is being asked of Willard and he chose to hide them.Tax Returns are important to know who you are.Tax Returns will not go away no matter what you want,Willard.

    August 24, 2012 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  17. Mark

    ARE YOU KIDDING ME. Unemployment running rampant. This is what you want to use your brain cells for?

    August 24, 2012 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  18. PAS

    Speaking of things we want to see - How about Obama's college records or even more important what about the Fast and Furious documents that congress has been looking for.

    August 24, 2012 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  19. M-W-T

    I Don't TRUST him......hell.....I don't even like this guy.......You can't believe a thing he says

    I will NOT VOTE for him......and now I want to see he's tax returns, I didn't before but, I do now.
    There is something VERY WRONG with this guy

    August 24, 2012 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  20. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    I must admit to a feeling of apprehension Lynda,not so much at President Obama losing but at what it means for our country that someone running for the highest office in the land,someone who is supposed to hold and carry himself above the racist/hateful/divisive fray feels COMFORTABLE embracing this things in his campaign.

    Romney has given the go-ahead to every nutjob out there to pursue their every paranoid delusions regarding our current President, and he'll co-sign their quest.

    That's scary and NOT the America I pledged alllegiance to.

    Obama 2012. Seriously my fellow Americans.

    August 24, 2012 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  21. lmc2011

    Love it! Still laughing go Mitt. And why your at it please ask Obama to unseal his travel and school records.

    August 24, 2012 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  22. universal

    Romney has nothing now Trump is writing his speeches, funny he never looks at the camera, just looks down on peaple with pathetic pict-on feel sorry for me look on his face, as if to say vote for me people that I dont want to know.

    August 24, 2012 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  23. Saboth

    "I thought it was great, because why should we have to worry about whether the president has a birth certificate or not"
    "And you hear a lot of questions about Obama. You don't know, but you hear questions". And there we have it. People that base their votes on spurious rumors instead of rock-hard facts about performance in the office. No wonder Fox News and Republicans have a stranglehold on certain people. Simply mention a rumor or an outright lie, and it put something into their tiny minds to create doubt. Hell, they probably believe the lies about the deficit being Obama's fault, and welfare spending going up too.

    August 24, 2012 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  24. Bob


    Obama has nothing to hide? Why has he paid millions to keep his college transcipts secret? Why does he have a social security number from CT that belonged to someone else? Let's stick to the issue of who can lead this nation back to where it belongs...on top. The guy who wants big government or the guy who wants limited government. That is what the election really boils down to this year.
    All of that nonsense was debunked years ago. Try again. Moneybags Mitt will lead us to the top, just like Bush 2 did in 2008: top of an economic garbage heap with his "trickle down" rehash of failed Reaganomics.

    August 24, 2012 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  25. Buc

    Talk about hoof in mouth desease, Mitt's got it bad.

    August 24, 2012 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
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