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. Pittsburgh Joe

    Note to Lou Ellen Brown: anyone born on US soil is a natural born citizen, even if NEITHER of his parents are US citizens.

    August 24, 2012 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  2. rs

    John- Every "diversion" in the last two weeks have come up because of something a Republican said-whether it be Akin and abortion, Head and civil war, the desperate attempt to see chains and shackles as a racial slur, and now Romney's embrace of birtherism. It certainly doesn't help that Romney and Ryan spent the week contadicting each other on policy positions (well, I expect that from Romney).
    Yes, it would be great to hear real policies being debated for the future of our country. But look, the GOP has nothing but "tax cuts for the rich" for policy, and they look like utter fools everytime they get within a dog's bark of a microphone. Perhaps it is because of who is running that the campaign has taken the course it has.

    August 24, 2012 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  3. myviewis

    Woman In California
    so why did THIS president have to be the first? Answer honestly IF you can.

    Because the details of his childhood were sketchy. First Obama is supposed to be a poor boy born to a single mom, but then Wikipedia states that his mom married Obama Sr. when she found out she was pregnant and Obama Sr. even had to get permission from his first wife to marry Ann Dunham, so Obama was not born to a single mom. Then, Obama is not poor, his mother is actually studying at the University in Washington and then back to the University in Hawaii and gets a divorce in 1964 and remarries in 1965 to Soetoro whom she met in 1963 and his grandmother is the Vice President of the Bank of Hawaii living a very good life, making good money and Obama goes to private school from 5th to 12th grade and the kid is wearing beautiful clothing in all his pictures and lives in a beautiful neighborhood close to his private school in Hawaii. Should I go on why people wanted to see his birth certificate?????? It was Obama and Democrats who caused everyone to doubt his birth place by changing or omitting the details of his life.

    August 24, 2012 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  4. ChuckUnderscore

    The One's long form birth certificate is a fraud. A fraud! His legal staff even acknowledges this. He may very well have been born in Hawaii but he has not yet proven that to be the case. There is hardly ANYTHING about this mystery man that is actually in the public record. Not that it matters much to the sycophants who continue to blindly support him, inspite of his dismal record.

    August 24, 2012 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  5. clubschadenfreude

    Let me put this bluntly, Mr. Romney. No one ever asked you for your birth certificate because they know you are an American. The only reason people are asking for President Obamas' is that they are afraid of their president being "brown". It's that stupid and that simple.

    August 24, 2012 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  6. PoBoy

    This guy is his own worst enemy. Why would you bring another controversial issue to the campaign stump when you're already battling several others like abortions, rape, tax returns etc. He's doing his best to lose!

    August 24, 2012 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  7. JennGr

    How can anyone say that Mitt is worse than Obama or vice versa? They both ignore the true topics. Obama has failed to actually present any plan of action since taking office. Now all of a sudden AT ELECTION time he announces his support of Gays and how is it NO ONE sees through his BS (election year....announce something you support now because you have NEVER been open about it before...hmmm??)

    I am not only beginning to wonder about the elects and the President but also the American people. Romney needs to lay it down. He needs to ignore the stupid ad bashing and petty low life comments made by Obama, which by the way show Obama's true colors (clear) and he needs to show the American people why he was chosen and why he should be chosen further. I dont give a damn about his tax records....honestly they make NO difference and the fact that they have become an issue shows further immaturity on the person who asked for them! If Mitt Romeny has not paid taxes, he would be in jail. He would not be a candidate for President which goes the same for Obama and his birth certificate. Stop and think people. We need to stop focusing on the negatives and start to look at the positive. Ask yourself, what has Obama done for me in the last 3.5 years? What has Obama done for himself for the last 3.5 years? Regardless of what you think of each person on a personal level, these questions must be answered by you and you alone. If you come up with more for Obama and less for yourself, then maybe you are chosing a man who is not in your best interest. If you come up with more or equal, than he has benefited you and therefore if you decide he can further benefit you than vote for him. Ask yourself, if Obama is not to blame for the economy (I swear it was all Bush's fault right??!!) then how come when Clinton was in office no one said this isn't Clintons doing this is because Bush Sr did so well?? Stop and think wonder other countries mock us OPENLY!! Educate yourself with facts, not just opinion or what you read by other commenteers.

    Someday we will all come to see that we are never going to resolve all of the issues in 4 years or 8 years. What we do need to see is a well outlined plan and how we are going to resolve the prominent issues at hand. What we need to do is to PROTECT our freedoms. The candidate each time should have this in their heart. Sustain and GROW our economy and put their heart, soul and endless effort into the people they serve.

    Remeber, in 4 or 8 years regardless of where you and your family stand in this economy, the President will be making how much a year REGARDLESS if he screws up.

    August 24, 2012 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  8. Gurgyl

    ..........but people want to see 10 years TAXES.

    August 24, 2012 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  9. lolo

    Romneys followers do not understand that this elitist racist is running for president and needs to watch what he says out of his filthy mouth. Trust and believe if he goes overseas and says some crap like this it would be over for him period. So you want to vote for a man with no common sense go ahead dingbats.

    August 24, 2012 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  10. TonyK

    Joe Idiot: aptly monikered.

    August 24, 2012 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  11. Opal

    I am not a birther, but why does Obama not take care of his brother. Wouldn't we all take care of our families?

    August 24, 2012 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  12. Ah...I See.

    Because it bears repeating:

    Mr Foobar2u said

    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 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  13. steve in illinois

    Get 'em Mitt LOL! Way to stir up the looney left!

    August 24, 2012 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  14. M in AZ

    I'll tell you Mitt why your tax returns and not your birth certificate matters to me. When your wife uses the word "ammunition" I have to wonder what in the world would be in your returns for anyone to have any ammunition to hold over you.

    August 24, 2012 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  15. Sirned

    This was not an off the cuff comment. It was deliberate to rally the base. It's just sad that it works. It says a lot about the intelligence of Right Wingers....Birthers remind me of the Republicans of the past. Remember them? They truly believed John Keenedy was being controled by the Pope and the Moon landing was a Hollywood stunt filmed in Nevada...Same kind of people...Dumb as dirt

    August 24, 2012 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  16. Z666

    How about you show the Birth Certificates & Marriage Certificates of ALL your Wives. Let’s see how many were under the age of 14 when you married them.

    And how many of his wives he is bringing to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue? The White House Architects and FEMA are looking at installing up to 50 Doublewide Trailers on the South Lawn. Do the wives share Air Force Planes – or does each get their own?

    August 24, 2012 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  17. Leroy

    Remember the three R's on Nov. 6th: Reject Romney Ryan !!!

    August 24, 2012 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  18. LolDems

    Now all you smearing leftylibdems, talk nice about your Future POTUS Romney. If for no other reason, he'll straighten out this mess the Amateur has created.

    August 24, 2012 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  19. Munya Munos

    What kind of a joke is that?? That's no joke: that's what we call innuendo – sneakingly suggesting that there are doubts surrounding Barack's citizenry! Someone should tell this DBag that birtherism sunk McCain!!!!!

    August 24, 2012 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  20. AndrewM24

    Mitt in mouth again. No one can question his citizenship but someone of color we should question theirs.

    August 24, 2012 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  21. C-blue

    More 1984 Reporting

    August 24, 2012 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  22. Z666

    ...Your comment is awaiting moderation...
    Guess CNN doesn’t believe in the First Amendment…

    August 24, 2012 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  23. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    The amount of time you spent outsourcing jobs and hiding tax payers money in offshore accounts, we'd sure like to see your birth certificate. And by the way, a racent poll regarding Africa-Americans has the support at 90% Obama and 0% Romney. That is historic! That figures! And the figure is not far off with Hispanics-Americans, Women, Muslims, Gays and Seniors. Obama/Biden 2012 by a landslide.

    August 24, 2012 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  24. Alisha

    Excellent point Mitty! No has asked to see your birth certificate...and I think that's a problem. Honestly, I have no idea where Mitt Romney was really born. He says Michigan, but how can we be sure? Michigan is VERY close to Canada and for all we know we may have a Canadian-Born individual running this country, and I'm just not comfortable with that. I mean, let's talk about the elephant in the room...Mitt is not a common "American" name, he looks as if he could have been born in some European country (no doubt importing their financial crisis if he were to become president) or even South Africa. My point is clear...Mitt, if you are a true American, I belive you should release your birth certificate stapled to 10 years worth of tax returns.

    August 24, 2012 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  25. Billy, NYC

    I llike that Romney Girl video in YouTube.

    August 24, 2012 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
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