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. Dan

    Obama created the birther issue by his own remarks.

    August 24, 2012 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  2. Lee

    "Its a joke. When you give me that look, its a joke."
    -Krusty the Clown

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

    Dig, dig, dig, A little deeper in the hole Mitt, dig a little deeper in the hole. If you want be an idiot, just dig a little deeper in the hole. Hahahahahaha

    August 24, 2012 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  4. doughnuts

    Hey, Joe Idiot, it wasn't good enough for Mitt Romney's father, and every major presidential candidate since then, so why is it okay that Willard is hiding his?

    August 24, 2012 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  5. CNN Fan

    To Romney,
    Then show us your taxes returns if you are a MAN...haha

    August 24, 2012 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  6. Sid Branson

    Priceless! This is the first "birther" story ever covered by CNN! The spin machine is in full cycle in Atlanta.

    August 24, 2012 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  7. dah

    I thought Romney was born in Mexico!!!

    August 24, 2012 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  8. Dominican mama 4 Obama


    Reposting DP's comment because it was so spot on. Thanks for one of the best comments I've ever seen on here.
    posted by: DP
    Throughout this campaign I have remained hopeful that one, just one, sentient being who calls him- or herself Republican will speak. Instead, all I hear is rampant stupidity. I am pinging the universe. Are there any intelligent, cogent and reasonable Republicans left? Any who are honest, grounded and concerned about the fate and well-being of this country? Any who believe in the values articulated in the Bill of Rights? In the equality of man and woman? In the notion that one should not seek to further victimize those already injured? I hear plenty of drumbeats to war (both literal and not), to hate, to dvisiveness, to bigotry . . . . What has happened to the party of yore? How could it have come to this? Who can stand to associate themselves with such ignorance and hatefulness? Just asking
    You beat me to it Annie. Great post indeed.

    August 24, 2012 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  9. 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 inmates have taken over the Repub Party asylum today–Akins, Trump, Bachmann–these are the true voices who are the heartlessness and soullessness of this group of self-interested, cruel, and faithless people.

    August 24, 2012 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  10. david

    Mittens: Hey guys, why don't I link myself to a bunch of other idiots that believe in conspiracy theories?

    Mitten's advisors: Holy cow...I'm given another idiot to try to get elected? WTF? Seriously...can someone, anyone help me do my job without stabbing me in the back?

    August 24, 2012 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  11. Rudy NYC

    And No One has ever asked President Obama for his . . .

    Tax Returns.
    Hate makes you stupid. Ask yourself this, why is that no one has had to ask Pres. Obama for his tax returns?

    August 24, 2012 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  12. once upon a horse

    if President Obama was a white male with a regular name like Smith or Jones nobody would have asked to see his birth certificate either. Rumor even has it that Romney was born in Mexico.......but he doesn't have to dis-prove that because nobody is asking him to. What Mitt's little "joke" did do however was showcase the intolorant and sometimes racist views of some of his co-hearts on the right. Pretty sorry if you ask me.

    August 24, 2012 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  13. 1twinsfan

    Good Lord. No, Romney, few want to see your birth certificate. They want to see your taxes! Maybe when he next visits Colorado, he make a joke about remembering to not go see a movie while there.

    August 24, 2012 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  14. Saboth

    I'm ready to see the tax forms Mitt. My guess is the reason we only see 2 years is because the IRS offered amnesty to people using illegal offshore accounts to cheat on their taxes, and Mitt has a LOT of offshore accounts. I'm guessing there is some legal snag with the amnesty program that prohibits him from being able to show anything from 2010 and prior. Then, there's the whole mystery of how an IRA grows to 100 million in 10 years despite contributions being very limited.

    August 24, 2012 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  15. Cindy

    You would think rich people would have a little class, but apparently Romney does not. But then, we know what Mormons think of black people. I guess Romney thinks he is above all the blacks cause his religion told him so.

    August 24, 2012 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  16. rta

    Mitt Romney is the most classless fool I have ever seen. He panders to this group and that one just to try and get elected. He is the Eddie Haskell( in Leave to Beaver). Always scheming, lying, conniving. Well, come November we will put him in his place. No we don't care to see your birth certificate, we care to see your underhanded tax forms and deals you have made with everyone on the right wing side. How much are you going to owe the Koch brothers, adelson, limbaugh, tea partiers? no one respects you.

    August 24, 2012 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  17. sbeth1

    LOL. This country has no sense of humor. The Democratic Party should ask to see Romney's. Don't make such a big deal out of it. Lighten up America and stop worring about labels.

    August 24, 2012 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  18. zizewitz

    CNN writes "In his Friday remarks, Romney's reference was to his own birth certificate, not that of Obama" NO KIDDING!! So only the crowd noted the implication, but not CNN?? Outrageous journalism!

    ROMNEY each time more seems a person who seems not intelligent enough to censor his mouth. This remark will cost him a lot

    By the way: The GOP, ROMNEY and RYAN repeat false statement even if demonstrated false. The DEM when a superPAC stupidly implicated that Romney was responsible for the death of a women, not only repudiated this by the President itself, but forced the superpac to stop it difusion immediately. THERE IS A CLEAR DIFFERNCE. and ROMNEY, by his today remark, only reaffirmed that he is not fit to be a President!!

    August 24, 2012 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  19. runphas7

    Well people, Mitt true colors are finally showing through. He fights dirty. When I heard what he said, I couldn't believe it. It is like something a teenager would say to be mean. Is this who we would want for President. Imagine what he would say to leaders of other countries he did not like. Here in Tulsa, you see the commercials that are running. AND you know the mentality here in Oklahoma, the majority, who are repubs believe everything, they appear to be the products of the dumbing down of the education system, lacking the ability to think with clarity and form concrete opinions of their own. Here in Oklahoma they really believe the President Obama lies and buy into the republican rhetoric like you would not believe.

    August 24, 2012 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  20. Ray from KY

    My viewer submitted question to the upcoming debate hosted by Candy: "Please explain the significance of bringing up the issue of your birth certificate and place of birth as it pertains to your presedential campaign. If you are making an indirect comparison to anything other than Barack Obama and his birth certrificate please explain why you would specifically bring that issue up?"
    Follow up: "How do you substantiate this use of your time on the campaing trail when you have constantly critized Obama's camp for requesting that you release prior year tax returns?"

    August 24, 2012 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    sad, he truely has an evil heart.

    August 24, 2012 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  22. Izza Rollin

    Do only republicans deserve coverage in the Ticker. This site is dominated by repug new. I guess CNN, bowing to its corporate sponsers (e.g. American Petroleum Industry, Clean Coal (sic) Industry) have become Fox Lite. Be provocative CNN, cover both parties equally.

    August 24, 2012 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  23. tidho

    All those so interested in getting their hands on Mitt's tax returns (you know the ones the IRS already has) should take note of one minor sentence in that article.

    "Obama's long-form birth certificate was released by the White House in 2011."

    A pre-election issue, but not released until 2011! Remember that anytime anyone in Obama's camp babbles on about those returns – they are being complete hypocrits.

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

    The crowd loved it and thought it was funny. The leftist media will faine shock, but you know they had a chuckle.

    August 24, 2012 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  25. Justin

    I could make a few polygamy jokes Mitt. Racist Bully!

    August 24, 2012 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
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