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. chill

    Mitt was born? 😉

    August 24, 2012 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  2. Let's Talk About Whites

    Nobody ever asked to see my magic underwear.

    August 24, 2012 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  3. Birther Headlines

    I am a member of a forum that tracks every move of the birthers, from ballot challenges to Orly Taintz.

    I'm not trying to spam, but I also have an aggregation website that is a perfect tracker of all birther and birther-leaning politician's activities. It contains feeds to every single anti-Obama birther blog and a lot of cool pics of Orly Taitz meeting with Reince Priebus, T-Paw, Newty, Rick Perry and plenty other GOP politicos. I put reports on ballot challenges against President Obama usually before anyone else as I have friends in most states who attend these hearings and many of them are actual lawyers, lol.

    Depending on your perspective, my aggregator can be quite hilarious.

    Please come visit at:

    August 24, 2012 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  4. Mexican Descendant

    Second generation Mexican, right?

    August 24, 2012 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  5. Larry

    Romney may not be hiding where he was born here, but he is certainly hiding if he pays taxes here.

    August 24, 2012 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  6. RettasVegas

    I'am lovin it all, as long as The Great PanderBear, Mitt-Rob-Me, draws the bat crap crazies from the extreme right, the clearer the choices for the Indepents (me ) and the undecided, in a close race such as this, and from all that I read & hear from nonpartisain polls, is that the GOP is scaring the Hell out of voters on their Republican platform on womens reproductive rights.
    75% of Americans say NO, why don't you old, bitter, throw backs to the 50's white men in politics get the Hell out of personal human rights matters? Not everybody drinks your GOP cult Kool-Aide, so just hurry up and die.
    Women do not deserve you idiots making laws that puts thousands of women in risk of dying each year.

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

    Shame on you, Mr. Romney. That's all I can say.

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

    OMG. I can't believe he said that. He is showing his true colours. When are people going to stop thinking that a black man cannot be president. Not all blacks are immigrants and we were here long before many other immigrants. I found this totally unacceptable and Robme needs to apologize or show us his tax returns.

    August 24, 2012 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  9. Karm99

    Racism is always near the surface in the Republican Party and I am not surprised to see Romney make this racial slur.

    Mitt Romney comes from a one color, one culture background. Utah, his home state is the least diverse in the country.

    Mormonism is almost completely a one dimensional White only religion. Its history is steeped in racism and bigotry.

    Mitt Romney will never have the character that President Obama possesses. He will never have the courage that Obama has in facing the racist, bigots and religious zealots that spew their hate at him.

    Romney will go to his grave as a man without substance or mettle.

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

    Rudy NYC
    No one has to ask Obama for his tax returns, because he has already released them.

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

    and he mocks another voting block, this time in his own base. and some people think he will make a good president

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

    Romney owes Obama and apology.


    August 24, 2012 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  13. jake in sc

    the people romney is pandering to are too stupid and/or racist to realize what he's doing, so why wouldn't he do it?

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

    I live in Michigan and I was at this rally. What Mitt said was a joke and everyone laughed. Democrats have such thin skins.

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

    No one asked Romney for his birth certificate because he is white.

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

    Yeah, it was a bad joke. It's not near as offensive as some of the things Obama has said so it's pretty clear this is mainly Obama people looking for a way to talk about ANYTHING other than the economy.

    How is the economy doing by the way?

    But it shouldn't have been said. A waste of space in the Presidential discussion.

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

    wow not one positive comment about Romney? And he will still get elected

    August 24, 2012 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  18. Fox News Rules the News World

    This is hilarious.... Gotta love how the MSM and libtards get their undies in a knot over a little joke. poor poor cry babies! You can dish out the Seamus jokes but can't take the birther jokes?! WHIMPS!

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

    Reminiscent of his old "school yard bully" tactics.

    August 24, 2012 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  20. Etch-A-Sketch Mitt RobMe Hood Out-sourcing-Jobs Outsourcing-his-Money and Outsourcing America

    We dont care about birth certificates! President Obama showed where are your TAX RETURNS for 12YRS!!!!

    August 24, 2012 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  21. Paul

    Romney is about as funny as Mothers' Day at the orphanage.

    August 24, 2012 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  22. HunterPSU

    Romney was just having some fun. We all know B.O. was born in Hawaii... We just thing he said he was a foreign student from Indonesia when he applied to columbia. Cant have it both ways B.O. "if" you were born in Hawaii and are a USA citizen than how could you be a foreign student at Columbia. How else could you have been accepted to Columbia with bad grades...must have been something.

    August 24, 2012 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  23. Tom

    anchor baby

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

    um, Obama released a birth certificate. now, about those tax returns Mittens...

    August 24, 2012 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  25. ShadyKay

    I heard Romney say that he was the son of an immigrant. Let's see..your polygamist ancestors fled to Mexico to continue the multi-wife thing – retaining their US citizenship. His father moved back here, US citizenship still intact. Somehow Mitt seems to think that is immigration. Mitt's grasp of citizenship and immigration seem pretty shaky.

    August 24, 2012 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
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