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. And No One has ever asked President Obama for his . . .

    Tax Returns.

    August 24, 2012 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  2. william Jackson

    Mitt Romney is a true birther, he made that remark about he was born in michigan,all of us know the president was born
    in Hawaii when these guys say these things,they mean it ,we know where they coming from, It wasn't a slip of the tongue, this guy want to be president of the whole United States. Give me a break, I'm tired of him already.

    August 24, 2012 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  3. Tree

    What's really going on the rep has supress people of color votes and they think that all white people is going to vote for him. He got it being so , I will never vote for Romney there is not connection and the more he opens his chips the more I dislike. All the money in the world will not change my mind, he thinks he can buy and steal this election .
    That is the reason why he is making these comments. He thinks he got it in the bag. White people are not that foolish and can see what he is about. I hope he lose big time and send a message out that we don't like him and we are not for sale.....

    August 24, 2012 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    Paul Ryan he has two first names, I want to see his birth certificate, is that his real name.

    August 24, 2012 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  5. TexasAnnie

    Reposting DP's comment because it was so spot on. Thanks for one of the best comments I've ever seen on here.
    posted by: 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 |

    August 24, 2012 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  6. martin

    I like his joke about everyone else paying taxes while he hides his money off-shore, illegally funds his IRA at multiples of the allowable amount and hides a lot of other garbage by not releasing his taxes. That's a good one.

    August 24, 2012 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  7. gr8usa

    I'm so glad he's just coming out and being honest about who he over-privileged birther.

    Now, how 'bout you show us those tax returns.

    August 24, 2012 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  8. yogi

    Of course Romney doesn't pay taxes, he is a bishop for heavens sake! May be I should become a mormon too, anyone knows how much it costs to become a bishop?

    August 24, 2012 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  9. dionysusBeer

    Why? Seriously, why raise the birther issue, Romney? That doesn't help you at all. All of the birther nuts would have voted for you anyway. I know it was a joke but it still opened a can of worms that didn't need to be opened.

    August 24, 2012 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  10. John

    This is what Obama deserves after constantly attacking Mitt's character by asking for tax returns instead of talking about the issues. Mitt Romney absolutely misspoke, the media will trample him for this, and it's unfortunate that he did say this. However, Obama is still an absolute fool for diverting attention from the issues with divisive, uncalled for attacks. Why should I care more about what Romney does with his money over what Obama does with mine? I'll tell you, come November 6, 2012, Americans will be asking why that fool Obama has been such a disappointment and they'll ask where are the jobs. Mitt Romney: A man of hope and change will answer the call for freedom and prosperity, and Americans will rejoice come the results of his long-awaited Presidency.

    August 24, 2012 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  11. Tim

    Another classy comment from Mitt Romney.

    August 24, 2012 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  12. The GOP need to pack up and leave

    EVERYBODY has demanded to see your birth certificate!


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

    no one has asked to see Obamas birth certificat.
    romneys dad was born in mexico but ran for president.

    show us the tax returns romney. america wants to see them

    August 24, 2012 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  14. Josh

    I have asked to see Mitt Romney's birth certificate many times.

    Apparently, Mitt's just not paying attention.

    After all, I'm not saying Mitt is a Mexican, born in a Mormon compound south of the border, but then again, I haven't seen his "long-form" birth-certificate...

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

    Money can't buy class.

    August 24, 2012 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  16. LolDems

    HaHaHaHa – Romney made a funny. It's a joke, all you uptight leftylibdems who's idea of humor runs vicious and not funny. Continue to project your own short-comings, fears, and strident idealogue rigidity. Judging by all the dithering, you are one shook-up bunch, getting your knickers in a wad.

    August 24, 2012 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  17. AK

    We do not need your birth certificate, we need to see your TAX return. Does Romney has the courage to show his TAX returns. Of-course NOT. Talks about Transparency in Romany's presidency. A JOKE.

    August 24, 2012 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  18. Joe

    I wonder what Romney and his supporters are implying here. Is it that it's OBVIOUS thg Romney was born in the US, and we shouldn't question the validity of his birth certificate? Why? Is it because of the way he looks? Does he look more "American"? So I guess by that argument they're saying anyone who "looks" like President Obama automatically falls into the category of someone who doesn't "look" American. Sheesh! I'm so happy and proud to be a Liberal, and a Democrat. This is the party that accepts everyone for who they are.

    August 24, 2012 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  19. Tony

    Romney has two degrees from Harvard. He knows very well that no presidential candidate has ever been asked to produce his birth certificate, except for the one who is currently in the White House. The issue is alive only for one group of people. Unfortunately, Romney needs that group of people in a close election.

    Before Akin opened his mouth, he was handily leading the Missouri Senate race. Akin now trails his Democratic opponent by 10 points. Romney just told a joke that is not funny, except for that one group of people mentioned above. Hey Mitt, do you know that the Rasmussen poll says that you now trails Obama by 1 point in Missouri?

    August 24, 2012 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  20. David Tish

    You're right Mitt we don't want to see your birth certificate, just your tax returns

    August 24, 2012 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    "No one has ever asked to see my birth certificate". Said the guy who will never be president. Let's see your tax returns.

    August 24, 2012 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  22. Florida Mom

    GROR – Get rid of Republicans – VOTE

    Obama/Biden – it's the only choice

    August 24, 2012 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  23. Janice

    I just would like to point some thing out:
    "Romney senior adviser Kevin Madden said after the candidate's remarks, "The governor has always said, and has repeatedly said, he believes the president [Obama] was born here in the United States."

    And another thing:
    "Obama's long-form birth certificate was released by the White House in 2011. It showed he was born in a Hawaii hospital on August 4, 1961"

    Enought said....

    August 24, 2012 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  24. Lou Ellen Brown

    Mr. Obama lacked the main part of his birth certificate, which was having an American born father. Where in the US is not so important, but the two(2)American parents is what makes all of us who have them NATURAL BORN CITIZENS.

    August 24, 2012 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  25. Say No to Willard Romney Hood and Personhood Ann Ryand

    I'm asking you Willard about your relationship with one Dr. Jack Willkie. Care to elaborate on your surrogate Dr. Willkie, who also gave Todd Akin such sagely advice on how women's reproductive systems work? Don't run from your brother Akin, embrace him. You are two peas in a pod.
    The Repub Convention should now be officially sponsored by Ringling Bros.

    And once again, be a man like your father was, show us 12 years worth of returns...

    August 24, 2012 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
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