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. waikikijohn

    another sad day at the Romney camp. This is the guy who won't take questions on Todd Akin & why he and his running mate support legitimate rape theory and why it remains in the GOP platform for the convention.

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

    Throughout this campaign I have remained hopeful that one, just one, sentient being who calls him- or herself Republican will speak. Instead, all I hear is rampant stupidity. I am pinging the universe. Are there any intelligent, cogent and reasonable Republicans left? Any who are honest, grounded and concerned about the fate and well-being of this country? Any who believe in the values articulated in the Bill of Rights? In the equality of man and woman? In the notion that one should not seek to further victimize those already injured? I hear plenty of drumbeats to war (both literal and not), to hate, to dvisiveness, to bigotry . . . . What has happened to the party of yore? How could it have come to this? Who can stand to associate themselves with such ignorance and hatefulness? Just asking. . . .

    August 24, 2012 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  3. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Sandra Hinojosa

    This is just despicable and disturbing and disgusting! Mitt the reason no one has ever asked to see your birth certificate is because you are white. Just ask the millions of us who were born in this country and have been asked repeatedly...Where are you from? It is wrong that I as a third generation American can be standing next to my friend who is British, has never bothered to become an American citizen and I am the one who is asked this question because I am Mexican-American. It is shameful beyond belief that our President must endure this constantly.
    BIEN DICHO Sandra! Well said!!
    My very exact sentiments.

    August 24, 2012 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  4. M in AZ

    President Obama has my vote and my 80 yr. old Mormon, republican grandmother's vote, too. What a joke of a nominee and a party. I cannot believe I ever subscribed to this crap.

    August 24, 2012 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  5. rs

    Mr. Romney is fine presidential material- if we're talking about a fraternity. For the most powerful nation in the world- not so much.

    August 24, 2012 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  6. drake mallard

    If you're going to be a little different, we might as well stay with what we have instead of taking a risk with what may be the Etch A Sketch candidate of the future."

    Anyone in their right mind can't vote Romney.

    George Romney resisted releasing a single year of taxes, arguing that it wouldn't present an accurate picture...but then he made a surprising offer: He would release the past 12 years of tax returns...That way, it wouldn't look like a stunt

    August 24, 2012 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  7. longtooth

    Obama really doesn't need to say much in this election. All he needs to do is let Romney and Ryan dig themselves into a hole they can't get out of. Mitt may be good at crunching numbers, but he's a disaster when shooting from the hip. Do we really need another GW Bush?

    August 24, 2012 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  8. FlotsamJetsam

    Mitt Romney has no class at all. When asked about Obama's lineage, John McCain said that although he disagreed with him on policy he stated that Barack Obama was an American.

    With Mitt's subtle jab that I was born at this hospital in Michigan implying his opponent was not. Nice going Mitt?

    Unfortunately that's where the honesty ends. With today's comment about "Big Business is doing fine because they understand the regulations and how to use tax havens" it just proves that you have been very successful at business and your personal wealth by knowing all the loopholes and gaming the system. Now how about coming clean on your tax returns. Its coming out that your more than $100 million in your IRA is due to carried interest charges that you are passing on to your sons.

    Exactly how does this experience positively translate to being president. You have been very non-specific on what loopholes you would close and what changes you would make yet state you want even lower rates for Millionaires like yourself. Mitt, you need to come clean. Release your taxes!

    August 24, 2012 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  9. Les Common

    Well, Mitt, you might have been born in Michigan. Good for you.

    But where did you live before you ran for Governor of Massachusetts? You had to go back and change your lies of financial convenience retroactively in your tax returns because Utah residents can't be the Governor of Massachusetts.

    And, with these *documented* lies in your tax return history, now we're supposed to just trust you that everything's fine and legal since then? I don't think so.

    Mitt Romney can, has, and will lie cheat and steal with no hesitation. Sociopath.

    America deserves and needs a president with a spine, and Romney, having none, would only be a tool for his corporate overlords to further enrich the 1% and crap on the rest of us.


    August 24, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  10. Mike

    Mitt Romney the modern day Benedict Arnold, sold American jobs to foriegn countries for profit. Romney is a traitor to America and the foundation people died to protect. No need to worry about a 3rd world country destroying America Romney and Bush has already started the process. This guy is a total idiot and the republicans would've been better off if Sarah Palin was running for office. Wow Republicans is this the best you can do for our country.

    August 24, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  11. cornelius7213

    This is too too low. Reminds me of King Nebkadnezzar in the Bible.

    August 24, 2012 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |

    Mitt is just letting out all the pressure he feels inside.... he knows he is going to lose... he is just showing his true colors b/c it doesn't even matter now...... undercover birther... tax evader, liar, pro-choice now pro-life........ this is a real winner here ... Not!

    August 24, 2012 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  13. yeah right

    But we did ask for you tax returns, and you have not produce. The dogwhistle tone you are displaying.

    August 24, 2012 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  14. Andrew

    Its just a sign of how desperate Romney is. If the country was truly in as bad a shape as Romney tries to convince people, he should be way ahead of Obama in the polls. He has to say these things to get his base to support him. Even Paul Ryan hasn't given Romney an edge. He just isnt likable, and there is no way to change that.

    August 24, 2012 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  15. Richard

    Tasteless and dispicable. Pandering to the racist base.

    Romney is a liar and a deceiver.

    It would be equally easy for Obama to crack jokes about Mormon Cults. He doesnt. Because he has class, something Romney lacks.

    August 24, 2012 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  16. Howard

    Mr. Romney ... no one has ever asked to see your birth certificate, because YOU HAVE ONE !!!
    I'm sure you haven't had to pay over a million dollars to hide your College Records either.
    It's time to replace obama, and his corrupt regime, with two honest, capable men ... with character, principles
    morals, and ethics ... elect Romney & Ryan in November !!!

    August 24, 2012 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  17. GI Joe

    Because you're not going to be elected (same as your Mexican born father). so no one cares.

    See how that works Willard? Now, show us your TAXES. Haven't they "fixed" them yet? Fire them for incompetence.

    August 24, 2012 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  18. Anonymous

    The main stream press scoured Romney's college and high school years. Of course they completely combed through Obama's college and high school years .... oh, that's right, they can't because Obama's first executive order was to SEAL his college records. What is he hiding? Romney's tax returns are a diversion: "squirrel!" so that the MSM has something to point at since BO cannot run on his record of failure.

    August 24, 2012 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  19. Darryl

    The FOX people say, Obama is running the nastiest, discusting, dirty, vile, discusting Campaign they have ever seen. Along with their RACIAL enuendos ect. Romney wants to throw out the Birther thing again ? Pres. Obama, has put everything out on the table with the people of this country honestly and who he is and what he's all about. Mr. R%omney just opened the door for Pres. Obama come after him now in a BIG way. I hope Pres. Obama whips his ass but GOOD !

    August 24, 2012 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  20. Lynda/Minnesota

    @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.

    I feel it as well. And it truly does concern me that the America I hold dear is long gone. I won't be watching this year's RNC convention - first time in my life I haven't. Last time around, it sickened me. I have a feeling this one is going to be much worse.

    If this is the type of America Mitt Romney envisions - hate and anger and lies at all cost - more power to him, I guess. He's not for me, though.

    August 24, 2012 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  21. Walt

    I wish Romney had not even brought the birth certificate up, I would have simply asked of Obama's Marxist & Socialist ties.

    August 24, 2012 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  22. michael l

    Oh, boo hoo for President Messiah. Mr Romney made verbal swipe that hurt his feelings.

    Obama was born on US soil, and his mother's citizenship makes the question moot. That doesn't mitigate his ethically challenged administration, whiny victimhood and overt hostility toward private enterprise in the United States. I'm not concerned that President Obama was born in the US; I'm ashamed that he was.

    August 24, 2012 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  23. Sirned

    I will say it again...Mitt, as a voter I need to see your tax returns to see if my loss of wealth is due to your huge gains in wealth. I need to know if you are playing games to avoid paying taxes and leaving my family with a bigger share of the deficit. I will continue to believe you are hurting my personal economy until you prove me wrong by releasing 10 years of returns.....

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

    But we HAVE asked to see his tax returns....

    August 24, 2012 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  25. Shaun

    We're not supposed to vote for obama because............wait for it.............. Romney didn't produce more than 2 years of tax returns.......... But we're supposed to vote for obama because........... wait for it............ yea, keep waiting.

    Obama was a failure.

    August 24, 2012 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
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