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. joe

    Romney's birth certificate is on a golden tablet found buried under a hill in New York State. An angel had to show where it was and a guy had to stick his face into a hat full of magic stones in order to translate it.

    August 24, 2012 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  2. Jim

    It's what is known as a "joke" or "an aside." I expect liberals would call it racist, but they call everything racist. As for those who say Obama finally released his birth certificate, so Romney should release his tax returns, I say that it only means that Romney should release his birth certificate as well. Besides, if Romney released additional tax returns, I'm not sure liberals would know what a tax return looks like – so the controversy would not end.

    August 24, 2012 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  3. Bren

    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 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  4. CS

    Romney makes me SICK! How dare he perpetuate this birther nonsense? Where are the jokesters tax returns? He is NOT fit to be a president or much else.

    August 24, 2012 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  5. Tony in Maine

    What an idiot.

    Mitt, I'm sure you're trying to be funny, but you're snot.

    There, Mitt, that's bad humor too. It's bad because it's made at the expense of another human being.

    August 24, 2012 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  6. OvernOut

    I'm sorry to report that this rally was two minutes from my home. I recognized a couple of kids that were behind R & R. Glad they've moved on to Bloomfield Hills, too many helicopters. There is a very active t-par-t group here, many are birthers, but most of them are not evangelicals. I just noticed from that sign on the barn that the Romney-Ryan logo looks a lot like the Rolls-Royce logo. Fitting for Bloomfield Hills types. I hope they take that sign down soon.

    August 24, 2012 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  7. The Dude

    *shaking head* Both he and Obama are socially awkward, but Romney is just... sad sometimes. Please, let him never dance on TV. I dont think I could handle it.

    August 24, 2012 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  8. PJC

    I LOVE HOW DUMB PEOPLE ARE THAT TALK ABOUT ROMNEY'S TAXES...why don't you educate yourselves on the US tax will find out that no matter where your money is held, it is taxed by the US government if you are a US resident...and are you THAT F'ING STUPID THAT YOU THINK ROMNEY DOESN'T GET EVERY RETURN AUDITED BY THE IRS??? I MEAN THE MAN IS A GAZILLIONAIRE...HE GETS AUDITED...DUMB DUMB DUMB LIBERALS

    August 24, 2012 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  9. Uchenna

    Isn't it too early for d flip-flopper to be acting n sounding defeatist??!!!

    August 24, 2012 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  10. Ah...I See.

    Boytjie commented on:

    Lou Ellen Brown said:

    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??


    So please tell us, Bad Bad Leroy Brown, where does the whole Anchor Baby argument come from? I'm not suggesting Obama was an anchor baby, just like how I dont suggest Mitt's dad was either (mitts granddaddy fled to Mexico where he enjoyed many wives, many times, per Mormon religion). It'd be nice if you Reps could get your accusations...or delusions...straight. Too bad there's so much misinformation. I'll bet it's hard to know which way to goosestep with so much propaganda being tossed around by Fox Entertainment and Affiliates.

    August 24, 2012 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  11. Ed

    Mitt Romney's definitely a born & bred well polished Natural and is a very impressive Candidate.

    August 24, 2012 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  12. PJ

    Sorry if I am repeating somebody, but
    this birther comment coincides with at least two of the scheduled speakers:
    Joe Arpaio and Trump – both birthers.
    Romney has made his bed with these people, and has lost my respect forever.

    August 24, 2012 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  13. Linda123

    "No one has ever asked to see my birth cetificate" Well, you're white, Mitt.

    August 24, 2012 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  14. Blilli

    When it was announced on the media that Donald Trump was going to speak at the Republican Convention, Trump said that he had a "surprise" to present at the convention. Given Trump's preoccupation with the birther accusations, Romney's remark today about not having to present his own birth certificate may not have been as innocent as he would have us believe. It could be just a prelude to more so-called proof of Obama's foreign birth from Trump. I wouldn't be "surprised".

    August 24, 2012 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  15. JJ

    That Mittens....what a card!!!

    August 24, 2012 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  16. cybercmdr

    Mitt's father was born in Mexico, in a Mormon colony. Mitt's grandfather went down there so he could have multiple wives. Mitt is essentially an anchor baby, putting his family back in full standing as American citizens.

    It should be interesting to see how the Ignorati gathering in Tampa turns out. The religious right are getting behind a Mormon who worships Mammon (Luke 16:9-13), because he repeats the myths and half-truths they want to hear. The sheer concentrated low intellectual pressure there might suck Hurricane Isaac right to the convention center.

    August 24, 2012 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  17. Diane

    How nasty to pay to the lowest demographic (Ultra-Right wingers) of the Repulican party.
    And doesn't Willard have an ad out telling Latinos that he understands them because Willard's father was born in

    August 24, 2012 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  18. DAVID

    hay mittens don't try to change the subject to the president! how about you answer the qusetions from the press when asked! how about some details of just what you intend to do if elected. buy the way the reason we keep asking for your tax returns is because people still don't know who you are! trust me just doesn't get when you are interviewing for this job. get it!

    August 24, 2012 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  19. Steve Lyons

    Just win the election Romney then sign an executive order releasing ALL of Obama's records so you can unwind his crippling legacy.

    August 24, 2012 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  20. Ed

    Mitt Romney could very well be the answer to what we need to inspire & get this country in order and minimize the enormous amount of disarray in progress right now by in some ways, getting back to the basics.

    August 24, 2012 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  21. HNBC

    What a cheap shot from Romney! It fits his profile as a whiner, one who takes cheap shots but one who can't stand the fire when it shines on him. This man is not worthy of being president!

    August 24, 2012 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |

    The reason no one has ever asked Mitt Romney for a copy of his birth certificate is because he is clearly white

    August 24, 2012 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  23. Dan

    That's a JOKE son!

    August 24, 2012 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  24. freedom

    Yee hah – the lefties have their panties in a wad.

    August 24, 2012 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  25. Max

    ....BUT??? everyone is asking to see his tax returns....Obama released his tax returns for 10 years...What is Romney hiding????

    August 24, 2012 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
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