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. Gary

    Birthers were responsible for McCain's loss. I guess Romney did not learn from the experience.

    August 24, 2012 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  2. Joe Idiot

    No we don't want to see his tax return. The IRS has them, they are ok with him paying out the hoop shoot in taxes, thats not enough for the haters. If I had Barry Soetoro's record, I'd be talking 'bout folks taxes, I'd be point racial fingers, making the election about abortion and avoiding my record at all cost.

    Barry Soetoro – welcome to the new America.

    August 24, 2012 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  3. Joannie

    What a cheap joke, is this who we want to be our President? I don't think so.

    August 24, 2012 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  4. Name

    ....and they shouldnt have asked to see our Presidents.

    August 24, 2012 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  5. demogoat

    I don't want to see your birth certificate, tax returns, you in the White House, your friends in congress, your friends in the senate, your friends on the bench, your wife, your kids, your running mate. I don't want to ever see anything that has to do with you Mitt. P.S. I don't want to hear from you, or your wife, or your friends, your mother or your bother or your sister, your accounts, etc.

    August 24, 2012 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  6. Sivick

    It's not his birth certificate I want to see, it's his tax returns.

    August 24, 2012 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  7. ericck1

    where are your tax returns? mitt do not change the subject

    August 24, 2012 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  8. Mr Foobar2u

    So true about DP's comments ?
    What happened to the Eisenhower republicans ? What happened to decency. I voted for Reagan and Bush, and as I used to commute to NYC, I'd look up at the National Debt clock and wondered what that was all about.. then I saw how tax cuts and military spending (what Eisenhower called the military industrial complex) was sucking the life out of this country. Then I see the people who love Jesus cheer during the debates about the scenario of someones misfortune ... and I wonder if I'm living in a bizarro world. Where republicans are loons and democrats are (hate to say this) more conservative than "conservatives"...

    August 24, 2012 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  9. Wake up People!

    @Tree, Awesome post. I have been saying the same thing but for some reason my comments get deleted. Willard is going around saying and doing anything he wants to do. He offends entire nations and now he is aligning himself with the birthers who let's face it were never going to vote for Obama anyways. It's like he knows he is going to win, no matter how low he stoops and how much stupidity he shows .......

    August 24, 2012 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  10. jaimie

    But your peers and constituents have repeatedly requested certain tax documents to which you flatly refused. Obama showed a birth document. Show your tax document requested Mr. Romney. You sir do not have the honesty and integrity to be the President of the United States of America.

    August 24, 2012 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  11. MrSandman

    First he referred to the ACHA as OBAMACARE and said he would repeal it to the booos of the NAACP then goes straight to right wing radio and TV all but saying he did it to get the boos to pander to the right wing nut fringe of his party. And now this? It is beyond me why anyone outside his fringe base would ever consider voting for this POS......

    August 24, 2012 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  12. Republican supporter of President Obama

    He is trying to cater to the teapublicans and Rush. I say his comment is more in line with saying that he is entitled to the office because of his enthic background with no checks whatsoever. Call it what you like but he is clearly digging up mud.

    What makes him better than our current President. Nothing. He has no integrity or respect.

    August 24, 2012 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  13. Say No to Willard Romney Hood and Personhood Ann Ryand

    John wrote:
    "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."
    What type of GOP logic is this? asking for tax returns, which Obama has done, which has been a long-standing tradition started by....Willard's dad is attacking his character? No, he's wondering why he won't live up to his father's statements? Maybe you and Willard have a guilty conscience by seeing this as an attack. Unless, he's guilty of something, then well - his character deserves to be attacked.
    The taxes are part of the issue. We have 1 candidate who wants to lower taxes more for mythical job creators who have not created jobs while having had lowered taxes since Bush. Problem. We have another candidate who wants to raise taxes on the higher earners back to Clinton era levels when we had tremendous propserity for a huge chunk of our population. This candidate would also be raising taxes on HIMSELF. Taxes are indeed a big part of the issue.

    Let's be clear. In no way, shape, or form did Romney mis-speak. In no way shape or form did Akin mis-speak. Willard went the birther route and he's going to pay dearly for it. It was a conscious decision, he needs to take personal repsonsibility (sound familiar???) for his words.
    Akin was trying to explain his limited and wrong view on pregnancies. He did not mis-speak. He kept digging.
    The GOP is regressive by way of its platform, it is getting rejected by the American people. The party as a whole needs to get better or become permanently irrelevant.

    August 24, 2012 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  14. Sueb

    Nobody's ever asked to see your birth certificate, however, you have been asked to show your tax returns. Obama showed his birth certificate; it's your turn.

    August 24, 2012 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  15. DaisyinNY

    Mitt isn't as stupid as he seems at first. He only made this "gaffe" to draw attention away from Akin. Not that Akin is going to let anyone forget.

    August 24, 2012 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  16. Wes

    I would rather see his assembly instructions and a bill of materials that his daddy put him together to sit under the Christmas tree and amaze the relatives. How many mothers does he have in his Mormon coven? A religion is just a cult with a political recognition, like in Colorado City, AZ. I am sure that Warren Jeffes is warming up his pardon request by now, with the assistance of Jan Brewer. We should all be very, very wary about this odd unit: Romney and his boy wonder, Ryan (didn't he lose some private parts in a WWII movie?).

    August 24, 2012 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  17. CBR

    Mitt Romney's remarks were his way to bring up the birth certificate once again. He leaves it to other members of his entourage to interpret his remarks. This is like running for Governor in MA when he said the GOP already had a candidate in Acting Governor Jane Swift. Lo and behold Swift was gone and Romney was in as the gubernatorial candidate. He said that MA made some changes in the Healthcare Bill that he wrote and so it was no longer his bill. Now he is touting the program as being better than Obama's. Stay tuned for more flip flops by Romney.

    August 24, 2012 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  18. Name

    I wonder why Mr. Romney?

    August 24, 2012 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  19. Boytjie

    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.
    Oh really? And just where do you find that requirement??

    August 24, 2012 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  20. felix el gato

    What we want from Romney is his financial history. He won't reveal his financial history because it will show him to be the enemy of the middle class, a tax cheat, and job exporter.

    August 24, 2012 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  21. Christina

    We don't want to see your birth certificate! We want to see ten years of YOUR TAX RETURNS! You have no credibility unless you do so.

    August 24, 2012 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  22. greg

    Put up or shut up. Obama produced his birth certificate. What about your tax returns? The "joke" is racist. Everyone knows what you intended to convey-the birth certificate saga with Obama would never have occurred if he was 100% white.

    August 24, 2012 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  23. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    And no one ever asked for my great great grandparents birth certificates either because they were brought here as slaves. And by the way Mitt, we built the American South...not the right wing white supremacists confederates who are supporting you. Racist troll!

    August 24, 2012 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  24. Don

    No one asked to see it and you didn't volunteer it either i'm sure

    August 24, 2012 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  25. fred

    he is stupid. that's all i can say

    August 24, 2012 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
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