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. WhereIsPalin

    Of course no one wants to see your birth certificate. We want to see your tax returns.

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

    This is not about what you want Mitt. It's about what the voters demand of you. Release your tax returns. 10 years worth. If you want to do only what's in your best interest then you have no business being a leader whose sole purpose is to do what's best for the common good of our Nation....Psssst we are vetting you. Hand over those tax returns...

    August 24, 2012 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  3. Gawker

    Why aren't any of the major news organizations mentioning the leaked Bain documents posted on today that show Mitt Romney took advantage of every tax loophole and shady financial device in the book? Even after he said today that large businesses take advantage of tax loopholes and havens'

    August 24, 2012 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  4. yogi

    I haven't seen any comments on Ryan's face, doesn't he look a little scary? What a cold man, completely void of any compassion. Imagine that this man would be only one step away from the presidency IF Romney got elected. Thank God that is not going to happen.
    Obama 2012!

    August 24, 2012 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |

    Wow. Now Mitt the twit steps on his own economy message. The unhinged GOBP tea potty are desperate.

    August 24, 2012 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  6. Woman In California

    myviewis wrote:

    Obama became president in 2008 and produced his long form birth certificate in 2011, 3 years later, I guess Romney can follow Obama's footsteps and if elected can then release his tax returns 3 years into his presidency.

    Were you asleep before Pres. Obama came into office? No PRIOR president had to produce their birth certificates. Not one of them – so why did THIS president have to be the first? Answer honestly IF you can.

    August 24, 2012 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  7. JohnReedjr

    Just another dig at Obama's otherness. If he were white like Romney no one would question him. Some weird things have come out of the right wing this week, from civil war to the United Nations taking all our guns. They are beyond reality.

    August 24, 2012 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  8. jackie1962

    But I would love to see the president's College records!!

    August 24, 2012 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  9. Mitt the Twitt

    The Republican party is a disaster

    August 24, 2012 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  10. Justin Case

    The GOP is a joke. But at the same time, it is time to jump from the Obama Train. The ride is over people. This is on fast track to crash and burn.

    August 24, 2012 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  11. fay

    Most of these replies are jokes right? Romney is gonna kick your boys ass all the way down the street. He is a legal citizen, and yes he did go there, he needs to do more "going there" to oust this buttwipe out of our house.

    August 24, 2012 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  12. Evergreen

    I thought Newt was just sour grapes when he talked about how Romney lies. Does he really represent what the Mormon religion is about?

    August 24, 2012 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  13. Republican supporter of President Obama

    How can this person be electable or presidential for that matter. First off this is not respectful of our current President or the prior Presidents. Second President Obama was vetted prior to being allowed to enter the race officially during the last election cycle. Third – the man was elected so get over it.

    Wait for the response from this clown in a day or so....I was taken out of context. I am disgusted by this VERY immature comment and this is proof why Willard is not worth consideration.

    August 24, 2012 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  14. Norman Thomson

    And, where is Michigan?

    August 24, 2012 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  15. Susan

    Anyone who is from that area knows Romneys are from there. I don't get why everyone is so shook up. The media is just making a big deal out of nothing again. It's a beautiful country area and it is meaningful to all those who live there,so I think it's a whole lot of ignorance for the media and many ignorant people to make a big deal out of what was said.

    August 24, 2012 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  16. Dutcher

    No they didn't Mitt. But they did ask to see your tax returns.

    August 24, 2012 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  17. Dick

    No, we haven't asked to see your birth certificate, but we have asked to see you tax returns. No presidential candidate has EVER been asked to produce a birth certificate, but EVERY candidate for President since your father has released multiple years of tax returns. Mitt, your pandering to the "birthers" is a new low in your campaign and is further evidence of the fact that you do not posses the character that I want to see in a President.

    August 24, 2012 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  18. jeanette

    Wow Mitt, going full birther.
    Yeah, NO ONE blinked an eye when Mitt released his SHORT FORM BIRTH CERTIFICATE because he is WHITE.
    Incredible how much Mitt is willing to crawl to appeal to the racist, ignorant and very ugly Republican base.

    The good news for dems; all this crazy stupidity is embarrassing for more moderate republicans. My long time conservative friends aren't going to vote. So, keep up the good work Mitt, just keep flapping your gums.

    August 24, 2012 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  19. auntielolly

    WOW aligning with the birthers, Mitt must really feel he's loosing this thing. I can no longer seriously consider him.

    August 24, 2012 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  20. carrie

    Just a very bad attempt to put himself in with the birthers ....make them think he is one of them.....just another way to show us how stupid the GOP has become! Won't show his taxes but makes an ill fated joke about Obama's much seen birth certificate.

    But as President Obama said don't!

    August 24, 2012 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  21. ericck1

    yo should release your taxes that is what you should do

    August 24, 2012 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  22. Keith

    Great comment Dutcher! I love it!

    August 24, 2012 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  23. Emily

    I have to seriously question the disrespectful nature of a man who clearly cannot win on his own accord that he would make such comments meant to de-legitimize the honor of the position he seeks. Someone who would act so recklessly to our PRESIDENT will surely do the same abroad and undue all of the work our PRESIDENT has done to repair America's good name.

    August 24, 2012 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  24. hawaii born

    I don't know for sure that Romney was born in Michigan. I've never seen his bc.

    August 24, 2012 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  25. Another Ex-Republican

    @Fay: My goodness so much hate and anger. Be careful you don't pop a vein. i am praying for you and others that think like you.

    August 24, 2012 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
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