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."

- Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

- Check out the CNN Electoral Map and Calculator and game out your own strategy for November.

"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. Salop

    Hysterical! You people (libtards) look for wickedness in every word uttered. Maybe you should instead look into the miiror; you'll find plenty of bitterness there. As far as tax records, I'd say Romney has about 2 years before he needs to show them...that's about how long it took this PRESIDENT to be able to find his Record of Live Birth (not a birth certificate, mind you). Your false indignity would be laughable were it not such a sad indicator of what pathetic people you are. Go ahead and vote for 4 more years of non-leadership and an economy running amuck...I just hope that the majority of voters have had enough of this Joke-In-Chief and elect a leader of this country. Now, whine and scream some more, y'all.........

    August 24, 2012 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  2. Andrew

    Lets see your tax returns! TAX RETURNS!

    August 24, 2012 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  3. Republican Class Warfare

    Keep your birth certificate, Mitt, we just want the tax returns.

    August 24, 2012 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  4. ObjectiveGuy

    Funny, I didn't see CNN writing an article the other day when Obama made a "joke" about tax returns. Love the unbiased reporting...

    August 24, 2012 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  5. EatRunDive

    No Mitt, but we do remember that despite only having 2 parents you still had more grandparents than most of us. While your followers talk about religious liberty at their convenience they ignore that your Grandpa fled the US with all of his wives intact!

    August 24, 2012 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    "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."

    Prime example of just how hard the GOP/Teatrolls make it to hold to my promise not to drop the R-bomb.

    August 24, 2012 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  7. Jersey George

    Did anyone notice the three nuns sitting behind Romney laughing at his birther comment? I did. Christianity, a cult of gullible, weak-minded sheep, has once again reared its ugly head of bigotry, hate, and intolerance.

    August 24, 2012 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  8. 666Z

    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 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  9. dRandel

    How can one trust a man, who hides his Tax Returns.

    August 24, 2012 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  10. Mitt Romney

    But I don't HAVE to show you anything. What are you going to do, dump me and get McCain back? Sarah Palin for president? Newt? HERMAN CAIN? Ha ha, you are stuck with me.

    August 24, 2012 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  11. TonyK

    Anyone who thinks Mitt was simply commenting on being in his home town shouldn't be allowed to vote: so here we have Mitt courting the birthers, while others keep crying that the fringe is not the "real" GOP. Well, yes it is. Maybe not in the past, but the lunatiks have taken over the Repub Part today–Akins, Trump, Bachmann–these are the true voices who are the heartlessness and soullessness of this group of self-interested, cruel, and godless people.

    August 24, 2012 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |

    Now you see what Romnsy is about he want to joke about the POTUS BC and he standing up there making a fool out of all of us. He dont want to show us his taxes because he dont want us to know he took the amnesty that the IRS offered years ago to people that was using those tax havens abroad to hide income. If you would look into this man eyes you can see that something is wrong with him do we want to put another President in office with Alzheimers like we did on that second term with Ronald Reagan.

    August 24, 2012 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  13. Sniffit

    Only thing I want to see from Mittens is his concession speech.

    August 24, 2012 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  14. metasri

    Mr. Romney

    If no one has asked you so far, let me be the first to ask you. I did not grow up around Michigan. Please show us 1. Your birth certificate 2. Last 5-10 years of tax returns.

    What a cheap shot.

    August 24, 2012 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  15. LolDems

    Listen to all the demanding and baiting leftylibdems. Why do you clunkerheads think just because BO does something, Romney should too? There's more reason not to. What gets your goats, apparently, is Romney is his own man, with his own plans for getting things done. He doesn't need to be swayed by his enemies, and certainly not the short-sighted, narrow agenda, emotional laden supporters of liberal causes. Just relax & let democracy work. Then, after President Romney has restored America and the unemployed have jobs again, you can continue your parochial diatribes with the usual portions of hate and ignorance.

    August 24, 2012 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  16. Dean


    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.
    ---------But you are happy to see Obama and his close group like Van Jones, Kevin Jennings.

    August 24, 2012 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  17. bobby

    The roar of approval from the crowd over this joke says more about them than Romney. How stupid can they be?

    August 24, 2012 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  18. Stewie

    What do you expect he like the rest of his religious brethren have all but flat out said President Obama is the antichrist. The Mormons were told to prepare (even more then usual) when President Obama took office for the end of the world. I remember my Mormon friends buying as much ammo and weapons as they could get their hands on in case Obama took away there right to bear arms. That sounds a little strange to me that the Mormon religion has gone out of their way to make the church goers believe Obama is evil. Its almost like they knew that a Mormon was going to run against Obama -–oh that's right they did.

    August 24, 2012 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  19. Sirned

    Is the REASON for my continuing loss of wealth in your Tax returns Mitt? I need to know in order to make an informed decision on your credibility of being President of the most powerful nation on earth. It seems that this request should be the least you could provide voters in this country.....Turn them over

    August 24, 2012 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  20. yogi

    @ Lou Ellen Brown
    Only one. Get educated before you post.

    August 24, 2012 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  21. Swissmittens

    I think we deserve to see Mitts taxes and birth certificate. Racist Romney

    August 24, 2012 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  22. Dean

    I wonder why the IRS is satisfied with Romney's tax returns??????Think they have more inside info on them than the public does?//

    August 24, 2012 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  23. Martha in CF

    Well maybe we should see it along with your tax returns. What a STUPID statement by Romney.......And get on with what you represent!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 24, 2012 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  24. floyd

    Over and over again Romney proves to all who he really is, " an American who is not fit to rule this nation". Obama showed his birth certificate, I dare you to show you tax return for the past 5 to 10 years, Mr Romney.

    August 24, 2012 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  25. Dave

    Republican = racist

    We've been saying it all along. Here's some proof.

    August 24, 2012 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47