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. JDinHouston

    I've never actually seen Romney's birth certificate – how do we know he's legal? I thought he came from Mexico, some sort of religious sect hideout.

    August 24, 2012 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  2. DJ Reality

    Yeah Willard spells his home state Michoacan

    August 24, 2012 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  3. Karm99

    I am not surprised to hear Mitt Romney make a "Birther" joke, the Republican Party is steeped in racism and bigotry and now he has publicly joined them.

    Mitt Romney's is a product of his religion, wealth and social status. None of which instills an ounce of understanding towards diversity.

    Mormonism, his religion has deep roots in racism and bigotry and up until recently was pure White.

    Mitt Romney will never even come close to the character and courage that President Obama has when he deals with the racists, bigots and religious zealots who spew hate at him.

    Mitt is destine to go to his grave a shallow and cowardly man.

    August 24, 2012 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  4. Mark H.

    The only reason Mormonism exists is because they fled to a desert far from anyone with a rational mind and set themselves up as a kingdom. If they hadn't ran away the publc back in the 19th century would have destroyed them. The people if Illinois and Missouri nearly did just that.

    August 24, 2012 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  5. Olivia

    At least Obama released his birth certificate. Can't say the same about Romney and his tax returns...

    August 24, 2012 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  6. Franco

    Mitt we don't want to see your birth certificate but we would like to see your tax returns

    August 24, 2012 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  7. I Need Three Forms of ID

    No one has asked to see Mitt's birth certificate............. yet. But if Republicans have it their way, we're all going to need 3 forms of ID in order to cast a vote in this country: birth certificate, driver's license, and NRA membership card.

    This is the party who says they want less government regulation. They really only want less government regulation of big business in America, not the actual citizens.

    August 24, 2012 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  8. America1st

    Akin is calling Mitt Romney to ask him to "drop out of the race".

    August 24, 2012 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  9. America1st

    Romney won' show his tax returns anymore than he'd show his birth certificate. The peasants don't need to ask, and they don't need to know.

    August 24, 2012 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  10. Pete

    Hey republicans why don't you ask Romney why his father George didn't get the nod as president back in the "60s.It's because he wasn't legal himself,it doesn't count in state government but it sure does in the presidency..George was born in Mexico by one of his fathers four wives,grandpa was a polygamist and ya wonder if ole Mittens was legal,just ask and see if he comes up with one,a certificate in the US that is...Your other buddy McCain wasn't legal either,not to long ago it was found out he wasn't born on a military base in Panama,he was born in a small village hospital miles away,so there goes your American hero thing,to bad,check it out,its fact!!!

    August 24, 2012 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  11. KC Yankee

    Doesn't he look and talk like a winner? That guy has had loser plastered all over his face since he started running for the 2008 slot. All he has is money. Period.

    August 24, 2012 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  12. Dave

    Now the gloves are off, Mitt. I hope you can take it as well as you can dish it out.

    August 24, 2012 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  13. Tex71

    Is this the equivalent of a grown man crying?

    August 24, 2012 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  14. Salop

    I swear...some of you Dembiciles could find racism in a weather forecast.

    August 24, 2012 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  15. hammer

    Not all democrats are stupid.

    August 24, 2012 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  16. v_mag

    I wonder how much they paid that woman behind Rob-money to dress in a nun's habit and sit there?

    August 24, 2012 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  17. McShannon

    John McCain was born in Panama, George Romney in Mexico and no one broght it up so to hammer at the birther issue on President Obama does appear racist or modern Republican.

    August 24, 2012 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  18. MNAnonymous!

    To the dumb-wit that keep on saying his grandmother said she was at the hospital in Kenya when he was born... It has been debunked several times as a messy translation! This is what happens with people brainwashed by FOX news... Instead one thing is for sure: Mr. Romney has not shown his tax returns!

    August 24, 2012 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  19. bspurloc

    Obama’s Kansas grandfather fought in WWII. Romney’s grandfather was hiding out in Mexico with his wives.

    August 24, 2012 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  20. Justin

    Keep digging your grave Mitt...keep digging.

    August 24, 2012 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  21. ConsiderThis

    So this is how the republicans get people whom they don't represent to vote for them. Unless you are a millionaire, billionair or have lobbiest influencing lawmakers on your behalf, YOU ARE NOT REPRESENTED BY THE REPUBLICAN PARTY! To vote for a party that doesn't represent you is called IGNORANT.

    August 24, 2012 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  22. Born in the USA

    What's next? This is what happens when your base in the Tea Party/GOP is really glorified trash. It just keeps getting worse and worse

    August 24, 2012 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  23. Etch-A-Sketch Mitt RobMe Hood Out-sourcing-Jobs Outsourcing-his-Money and Outsourcing America

    We are asking for the birth certifcates of the "jobs created" by BAIN "VULTURE CAPITALIST", TAX HAVEN offshore accounts...........they are all pointing to CHINA, INDIA, MEXICO, SWISS BANK Accounts, BERMUDA & the CAYMEN ISLAND!!!!

    How about your TAX RETURNS!!!!!

    August 24, 2012 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  24. Tod

    Hahaha....good one Mittens. Now where are the f*&^ing tax returns?

    August 24, 2012 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  25. gordyb

    Romney is a birther.......another GOP wing nut!

    August 24, 2012 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
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