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. Mongones

    That is an iinsult to all people of color and Mitt Romney is not qualified to be my President. Go get him Obama

    August 24, 2012 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  2. Pete

    He said another stupid thing about not being asked about his birth certificate ,he was hatched wasn't he?This just goes to show what the republican party is,a bunch of lily white men,women and trailer trash who are scared of the black boogy man as president.He's gonna steal everything you own,ya gots ta believe in what the white Mormon elitist man says .His sidekick an Ayn Rand diciple who not only believes in abortion,but also is a atheist and believes that citizens should have no interference from government,no help,nothing you're on your own with her thinking,good luck,3/4 of ya couldn't make your teenage years without the governments help and as delushional as you are ,you know it!!So remember who's running here,a man that respects you as people and citizen and wants to help,the other that made money off of the backs of hard working middle class citizens and took everything away that they worked for to boot.It's your choice,work with this president or go back to the days of only empty promises,its your vote,make it count!!

    August 24, 2012 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  3. freelance

    we just want to see your tax records, so we can learn how to move money around into swiss and cayman islands accounts to lessen the impact. I pay 25% tax rate as opposed to his 13% average. So, I just want to learn.. that's all

    August 24, 2012 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  4. JDinHouston

    I thought Romney was a Mexican polygamist in a religious sect.

    August 24, 2012 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  5. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Mitt Romney not showing his tax returns is to what CNN's Political Ticker is to deleting people's comments to protect the teapublicans from being exposed for whay they really are. A judge can threaten civil war on America because our demiocracy works and all his garbage gets published and he doesn't get detained and right wing extremists can threaten the President and their crap get coverage but you post something that is truthful and it gets deleted to protect the teapublicans. What a screwed up country.

    August 24, 2012 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  6. Wrenn_NYC

    Direct reference to his own birth certificate, but it was indirect referencing Obama's, and he well knew it.

    It's the same as saying 'No one has asked me if I beat MY wife..' the inference is clear.

    And it was a crass joke.

    August 24, 2012 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  7. paul

    Slime. No other word for this freakshow and his party.

    August 24, 2012 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  8. Truth

    Let's see Romney has been called a felon, a tax cheat, he caused a woman to die, a dog abuser, and his religion is a cult by the Obama campaign. I guess he wanted to go ahead and set the record straight before Harry Reid said he had it from a reliable source that Romney was born in Mexico. All you can ask for is his tax returns. They will show he made a lot of money and used the law to reduce his taxes. A SMART BUSINESSMAN. That's what we need running the country. Someone who knows how to make money. How did he get into Columbia University? Why seal your college records. What has he got to hide? The fact that the only way he got into Columbia, was to apply as a foreign student. OBAMA LIES.

    August 24, 2012 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    Mitt I'm sure Obama could say the same thing I was born in Hawai I went to school here I have lots of nieghbors and friends ,I believe Obama the difference is the stupid people in your Party LOL

    August 24, 2012 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  10. Rudy NYC

    myviewis wrote on page 16:

    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.....
    " Obama was not born to a single mom." Whuddya know? His mother was a married woman! Shocking!

    August 24, 2012 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  11. SCOTO

    Why not just say it Romney. Not like the BLACK guy

    August 24, 2012 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  12. REG in AZ

    When people have nothing meaningful to say they revert to the ridiculous, as we have seen so much of from the likes of Trump and others. If people are swayed by that stuff it is because they have a biased loyalty and it just gives them something, no matter how dishonest or illogical, to rationalize with. A shame but reality.

    August 24, 2012 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  13. opiepaul

    Where IS Romney's birth certificate? Has he produced it yet? WHY NOT?? Isn't that a requirement to run for the most public office in the country? And I'd like to see the original, unaltered, signed certificate please – just in case that woman in Spain had a go at it first!

    August 24, 2012 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  14. Wrenn_NYC

    Crass joke with clear inference. It's not just about Romney's birth certificate.

    It would be the same as if Obama were to say while campaigning 'Well, no one asked me if I tied Bo to my car on the way here.'

    It brings up the issue.

    August 24, 2012 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  15. Brian

    For those who equate this joke with Obama's about the dog on the car... I'd note that Romney spoke about his putting the dog on the car. Obama has also provided his birth certificate... One is true and the other has been proven false.

    August 24, 2012 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  16. Sirned

    2009 the US granted amnesty to rich felons that were cheating on their taxes by hiding their money in places like the Caymans and Swiss banks. We need to see Romneys tax returns prior to 2009 to see if he was a felon before he was granted amnesty. And how much did the tax payer lose in those years....My share of the deficit might have been lower if Mitt had paid what he owed all those years...Then think of the rest of the fat cats doing the same....Really disturbing

    August 24, 2012 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  17. Reggie19

    And you will not see any more of Romney's tax returns until Obama unseals his college records. That is a fair exchange. Obama keeps talking about everybody doing their fair share then let us see your college transcripts and then Romney will show more of his tax returns.

    August 24, 2012 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  18. Just Amazed

    Not that it would've mattered if he'd been asked...we also asked for his tax returns, and look what that's gotten us.
    I suppose I shouldn't expect anything less of a tacky statement from a man who considers, and whose wife considers, himself better than the entire middle class.

    August 24, 2012 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  19. Iconoclast

    Ha ha ha. That's rich Romney(pun intended). Nobody has asked for it because:
    1) You're white
    2) Everybody knows your going to lose anyway
    3) You've lied about everything else so what's the point?
    Sheesh, what a pimp!

    August 24, 2012 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  20. DannyDan

    Obama's mother was born here and so was he. Mitt Romney's father was born in a polygamous Mormon commune in Mexico.

    August 24, 2012 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  21. allens

    gosh you are a funny man. now show us your tax returns and ryans of course. you would not hire anyone without a peek at their returns at bain would you? of course not, that would be incompetant. i expect this minimum from dems and repubs. you are hiding something and the voters want to know what it is. put up or shut up

    August 24, 2012 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  22. JusThinkin

    what kind of man is he? if you deconstruct that statement (going beyond the supposed joke).. you'll see he's not only hoping to insight subconscious racist feelings in his crowd, but he's basically condoning racist undertones that have plagued the current president. that's not the type of person i want representing me. regardless of any differences in economic or political strategy – i want to look at your character and know at heart you're not hateful... or condone the hate of others. Romney – you fail and should be ashamed of that joke. if that's what you want to call it. how pathetic.

    August 24, 2012 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  23. nothing new here

    What was the point of bringing all this up?
    But since Romney has opened another can of worms, how about us voters getting to see his birth certificate as well?
    Better yet, how about presenting a cohesive platform, instead of all this flip-flopping and choosing what questions to answer?

    August 24, 2012 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  24. kayla

    it's amazing you can post a lot of comments on this issue, and very little on others, what is the big deal cnn?

    August 24, 2012 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  25. pchelp, Juneau, AK

    Sure, Mitt *claims* he's from Michigan-but is he really? Just look at him-isn't it obvious that he's from outer space? Or maybe he's from Utah? If you're an idiot you can easily think that just because questions are asked that there must be something to them. Smart people pay attention to the answers, not the questions.

    August 24, 2012 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
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