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. Josh

    "They know that this is the place that we were born and raised." Oh. I thought you were born and raised on the corner of Wealth and Privilege. My mistake.

    August 24, 2012 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  2. Ganan

    He has turned over 2 years of tax returns, which is the requirement–end of story. Let's see Obama's tax returns-

    August 24, 2012 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  3. bob/brooklyn

    Hi mitt romney no one will ask u abt ur birth certificate but we will like to see ur TAX RETURNS and i hope ur daddy was ask abt his birth certificate bcus he was born in MEXICO

    August 24, 2012 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  4. Sirned

    Hmmm....Hey Mitt are you just a fundamental Mormon who still believes blacks are evil?....You grew up believing this. It was part of Mormon doctrine until 1978. I'm beginning to think you still do....Really pathetic Mitt

    August 24, 2012 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  5. edward

    what is this guy make a mistake like this while he is hosting a guest from another part of the world. this is serious and he making this types of errors all the thing. I could not trust this guy in a major sit down with other leaders.

    August 24, 2012 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  6. SC from Canada

    As an observer from up north, I am surprised to see how close the race is between Obama and Romney. I do not see the Republicans as a progressive party, but a party of the wealthy, business, patricarchial, non-social responsilbility etc. They don't represent Joe Public, but they sure have the money to hammer the public with negative Obama ads and I think this must be the reason for the closeness in the polls.

    My worry is that half of the US really represent the neanderthal Republican thinking....doesn't give me much of an incentive to visit unfortunately.

    August 24, 2012 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  7. bcrunner

    Does this man have no decency? or scruples for that matter?? and he wants to be my president??? He is just God awful!!!

    August 24, 2012 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  8. DanW

    Romney embraces birthers, hits new low.

    August 24, 2012 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  9. The Real Tom Paine

    Well, its to be expected: after all, we all know that Romney has NEVER lied or exagerrated about anything, and he ALWAYS plays by the rules. Just ask his primary opponants what they felt as Romney carpet-bombed them with ads, distorting and attacking their records. Oh, by the way, the Ryan Plan is " Right-Wing social engineering", and anyone who thinks otherwise is a fool. The largest redistribution of wealth in this country's history, and it would all be flowing up to the people who need a raise the least. Anyone see the study by the Pew Center noting that middle-class incomes actually fell substantially in the last decade? Question: which party dominated DC during that decade? Yep, the party that portrays millionaires as an oppressed minority a la John Galt and ' Atlas Shrugged".

    August 24, 2012 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  10. Ganan

    Dear Debra from Atlanta--why oh why must people always play the race card?????

    August 24, 2012 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  11. Jack

    Eddie and Herman Munster. What a team. The jokes keep coming. They're a laugh a minute.

    August 24, 2012 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  12. Ken in MD

    "no one has ever asked to see my birth certificate."

    No, but the have asked to see your tax returns, and unlike Obama you refuse to produce yours.

    August 24, 2012 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  13. Swingstate Pat

    I'd like to see how Mitt is going to 1. give his rich friends their tax cuts, 2. reduce the federal deficit, 3. solve the huge problem of affordability in the US health care system, 4. save medicare and medicaid, 5. give more money to the National Defense, and 6. not raise taxes all at the same time. It does not seem reasonable,but then we know that reason, moderation, and sensibiity have eluded him for years. Perhaps he could harvest a few fees to stick us with since fees to him are not considered taxes. I'm from Florida and know full well how fees are being imposed so that partial-resident multi-millionaires and billioaires don't have to pay any taxes like they used to. Well, any money taken out of my pocket and put into the government's is a tax–no matter how it is euphemized.

    August 24, 2012 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  14. Mike

    Mitt please stop seriously how stupid do you think Americans are really? You were a liason for companies seeking to go overseas. You profit mightly making millions on exporting jobs overseas, leaving American families in ruins. I can careless about your tax returns I know what you did and now you expect America to hand you the most powerfult seat in the world. Wrong answer It's not happening you and the republican party destroyed America because of greed. Yourself, George Bush and Dick Cheaney profited on other people misery. Only a fool and a racist fool at that would vote you in office, Your a fraud and will go down in history as the day Bendict Arnold ran for President and lost.

    August 24, 2012 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  15. Gilley

    How about showing us your tax returns Mittens.

    August 24, 2012 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  16. rc

    Oh my gosh, Romney told a joke, quick DNC spin machine make sure you squeeze eveery ounce of juice out of it. Wait, Biden stuck his foot in his mount, quick RNC put together a couple ads and books some appearances on Fox to exploit it.. Unemployed, uninsured, those losing their homes, college graduates in debt up to your ears without a chance of repaying please keep your voices down, you may drown out the rhetoric.

    August 24, 2012 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  17. CBR

    Just another tap dance by Mr. Romney. He is always playing both sides so for those in MA are used to his ways.

    August 24, 2012 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  18. mac101

    We don't need his birth certificate. We need copies of his tax returns.

    August 24, 2012 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  19. WillH85

    So translated: vote for me, I'm white.

    August 24, 2012 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  20. Stewie

    I think the British hit the nail on the head with "Mitt The Twit". How does this man think he can run this country when no one respects him? Being the big boss in private industry hasn't helped his social skills. I guess when you are rich and powerful your entire life that having social skills and working with others isn't really a strong point. Spending your life telling people what to do does not make a good leader. Oops I just pointed out another flaw.

    August 24, 2012 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  21. Riddle me this!

    Mitt is going to release many years of returns in the near future. And when there's no smoking gun, the air will shoot right out of your balloon just like the birthers when Obama provided his "long form". What then will you have to speculate about? Get that dinner table ready. CROW will be on the menu.

    BTW, it's ok for Obama to call Mitt "Romneyhood" (which technically doesn't make sense), but Mitt can't make a joke about the birthing controvery? Me thinks you doth protest to much!

    August 24, 2012 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  22. Liza

    Tacky? Yes, tacky.

    August 24, 2012 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  23. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Taking a page out of Judge Tom Head's book, it would be just fitting if a massive earthquake was to hit the GOT's convention on the night Romney speaks. This way, all the Christian Brother confedederate racist slime would be sitting in the building. It would be a great day for America and the human race!

    August 24, 2012 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  24. Jack

    Here's a joke for Obama: "No one has ever asked to check to see my Swiss band account."

    August 24, 2012 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  25. teej

    I don't think the Republicans believe they're going to win. They appear to be in test mode to see how nonsensical they can get and still keep their base...

    August 24, 2012 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
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