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. rosethornne

    Show me the tax money.

    August 24, 2012 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  2. donwhitebread

    Amazing! The last thing the Romney campaign strategists want is to resurrect any association with psycho/racist birthers, especially right after the recent restart on the "war on women'. So instead, Mitt makes this hilarious joke about Obama's birth certificate, which, of course, turns the conversation right back to his AWOL tax returns. I think the loudest laughs may be coming from Obama headquarters.

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

    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.

    Not a single statement from your entire post is true.

    Try opening a newspaper every now and then. I know, I know, it may mean turning off Fox News and breathing from your mouth but hey, maybe you'll learn something and then the adults will let you speak when they are having a conversation.

    August 24, 2012 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  4. the schooler

    romney comes up with this jokes and then he complains about dirty, disgusting politics? what an idiot!

    August 24, 2012 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  5. A

    I dislike Romney and do not wish him to be president, but come on, this is a stretch. He was making a joke...poking fun at the birthers.

    August 24, 2012 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  6. John

    because you are white and a nobody!!

    August 24, 2012 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  7. Softship

    "No one has ever asked to see my birth certificate."
    Because everybody knows you weren't born, you were hatched!

    August 24, 2012 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  8. G Smith

    In addition to being a flip flopper, and being untrustworthy, Romney can now add being a true jerk to his resume.

    Romney's repeated and unending gaffes brings to mind a quote from a famous Greek philosopher , it goes – It is better to be associated with a man of integrity without money then to be burdened in the company of a rich man with no integrity.

    August 24, 2012 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  9. Rudy NYC

    Why am I reminded of Mitt Romney's "small minds" remark about people asking for his tax returns?

    August 24, 2012 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  10. SCC

    Debra from Atlanta – I agree 100% –
    Romney's statement does not suprise me – Mormons dislike and have no regard for African Americans.
    It is located in their religious books and teachings
    Then he wonders why less than 1% of the African American electorate is supporting him

    August 24, 2012 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  11. Evan

    Slimeball. Mitt is just like the rich boss I used to have to suffer in my previous job. Smirking, talking about his $3000 golf rounds, is vacations in the Sceichelles, his boat and meanwhile asking you to work on Saturday "to finish this project we all have to contribute" while he was at the lake, and to be 3 years wit no rise " We are going through tough times" Then we learned he got more bonus than 10 ours supermario rampage. Repeat slimeball

    August 24, 2012 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  12. Jeannie

    Racist, that is the republican way. I am not pulling the race card as so many right wingnuts would claim. I'm calling it as I see it. Never have I seen a white president so disrespected as President Obama. I can only conclude it is the color of his skin. George w. brought this country to the brink of a depression that President Obama saved us from, but I don't hear anywhere close to the rhetoric and hatred for that idiot.

    August 24, 2012 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  13. Samantha

    what do tax returns have to do with college transcripts? we know he was born in America and there is no proof from anyone that he filed as a foreign exchange student. so stop comparing apples to oranges. and no people, were not "overreacting" to this. all week on fox news every anchor has been saying "obama is such a slime ball, hes being so sleezy." but what do you call what romney just did? please dont say "its just a joke. youre whimps. get over it. he didnt mean anything by it." but the people in he audience knew exactly what he meant, hence the laughing. and dispite what rush limbaugh says the left and the people that vote for obama are not morons. we all know what romney was saying when he made the comment. he was being, in the term used on fox news about obama, a sleeze

    August 24, 2012 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  14. Mary Leeper

    It really saddens me to see that Mitt Romney is such a low life, bigot, who is running for President. That statement alone better wake up all Minorities. If they think that you're not from America, you will probably be in trouble of being deported. Remember he said, immigrants will deport themselves. We are really in trouble if Romney/Ryan gets into office..they are both prejudice and bigoted.

    August 24, 2012 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  15. Mark H.

    Mormonism is a cult based on the ravings of a madman.

    August 24, 2012 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  16. Republican idiots

    There apparently is not a shred of intelligence left in the Republican Party. Every time Romney speaks, he proves the point. This time is no different. Still on the Birther insanity? "Legitimate rape?" Akin only mouthed what many right-wing crazies believe. And then, of course, there's the matter of global warming. These people can't recognize truth when it smacks them in the face.

    August 24, 2012 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  17. Lindsay

    what a he's getting really desperate, trying to feed the right-wing conspiracy. meanwhile, he claims that Obama is the one running a campaign of hate. this man will say anything to get elected.

    August 24, 2012 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  18. Jamie1

    The worst part of this clip was the audience reaction, laughing and cheering. But what can we expect from Republicans?

    August 24, 2012 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  19. DeeDee

    How truly disrespectful. His comment says more about him than President Obama. This whole birther issue shows how ignorant and desperate some people are to discount President Obama. It shows they really have to scrounge around like the mutts they are to find something to talk about. Get a life!

    August 24, 2012 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  20. Lando

    Majority of Americans wants to see Romney's tax returns than Obama's birth certificate and that is a fact....period..

    August 24, 2012 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  21. Ben

    Eh, while a silly and mostly harmless comment, Romney really needs to steer himself as far away from the more fringe elements of his party as possible.

    August 24, 2012 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  22. nolimits3333

    Reagan-Bush-Bush set the national house on fire. They overspent by $12 trillion and counting. We're still paying for Afghanistan, Iraq, the tax cut, the Great Republican Recession.

    We called Fireman Obama to put out the fire and save the house.

    As soon as he arrived, Conservatives in Washington began stabbing the fire hoses, letting the air out of the fire truck's tires, and turning in false alarms (death panels, birth certificate, Kenya, socialist indoctrination of children, closet Muslim, Rev. Wright, etc.).

    Now Conservatives are saying that we should blame the fireman, not the guys who set the fire in the first place.

    August 24, 2012 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  23. Just WOW!

    Barrack "The Pied Piper" Obama cannot and will not run on his record. If a grade were to be issued for his term as POTUS it would be @D-. You people want more of that? REALLY? Party lines aside, BO cannot lead, fix or administrate his way out of a paper bag! Your hate of the GOP is blinding you the obvious!

    August 24, 2012 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  24. bill

    That's pretty funny why don't you shut up and show us 10 years of your tax returns. Stop hiding from character of fitness questions while seeking the highest office in the land.

    August 24, 2012 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  25. huwie

    At least McCain had a spine. Tomorrow, when Mitt travels to Florida, he'll be sure to tell everyone there he feels home because he was born in Florida.

    August 24, 2012 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
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