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)

    Mr. Romney:

    We demand to see the following:

    1) Your birth certificate
    2) Your IQ records
    3) Your arrest records
    4) Your tax returns for the last 12 years
    5) Your membership card from the American Nazi Party

    Why are you hiding these documents from the American people?

    August 24, 2012 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  2. sylvia salamone

    Romney we know Obama was born in the USA but we don't know what taxes if any you paid. Stop making excuses and show your tax returns you sneak.

    August 24, 2012 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  3. Lynda/Minnesota

    "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."

    Ah, yes. The inner workings of wannabe President of the United States Mitt Romney's mindset.

    August 24, 2012 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  4. Later

    Wow, there are some serious comments here. I guess the economy being in shambles doesn't matter as much as Romney making a joke about birth certificates.

    I always wondered what kind of person it would take to vote for Obama again. Not a very bright one it seems.

    August 24, 2012 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  5. CarolO

    Romney has just elevated himself into a total AH in my opinion. I haven't seen Obama ask Romney about his grandfathers 5 wives that he fled to Mexico with to avoid prosecution. We have no control over who our anchestors are or what they did. Obama has a father from Kenya. Also not his fault. Obama has provided both the short form and the long form birth certificate. If people are too ignorant to accept it, then the are just plain stupid and can't be fixed.

    August 24, 2012 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  6. MidWest

    Mitt was CLEARLY talking about being proud he was "home" where he was born and raised. Romney wants American's to proactive and contribute to their own futures. Not just sit around and draw their support from the government. If you think Obama cares about anyone other than himself you are sadly mistaken. You better go read Obamacare and release that once you hit a certain age you will no loner be "approved" for certain life saving procedures, especially cancer fighting. Our vets who served and deserve the highest possible care will no longer be able to receive treatment for something like prostrate cancer. That is sad and stupid that those that fought for this country get nothing yet those that have NEVER given to the country can acquire free medical for themselves and their kids. It is time to break the cycle and start demanding that those that can work are working. Unemployment is WAY higher than the fake numbers they are releasing.

    August 24, 2012 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  7. Frazit

    When you need to stoop that low to have your own party embrace you, then you do not deserve to run for president .

    August 24, 2012 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  8. Beverly - NYC

    So no one has asked for your birth certificate, feeling left out Mittens? How are the tax returns coming? Any snappy come backs for that.

    August 24, 2012 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  9. MC

    I seriously have to laugh at the open bigotry of the tea party. I would vote republcan but with comments like that, there is no way in hell it will happen.

    August 24, 2012 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  10. damo12345

    You forgot to wink at the camera as you said it, Mitt.

    August 24, 2012 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  11. Emerald

    Actually the "birther" crap started in the Hillary camp. That's what gave it so much traction. Dems were saying it until they had to get behind their guy and only then was it deemed 'taboo' for anyone else to mention it.

    August 24, 2012 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  12. cleansweep

    teh tax returns that he has released are subject to be amendedin 2013, we need to see some older tax returns,about ten years worth!

    August 24, 2012 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  13. tayo

    No smoke without fire!

    Well done Romney, Welcome to the Birther movement!!

    Certainly you cannot win the Presidency with racism; the American People will not fall for it. Not this time around!!!

    August 24, 2012 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  14. Later

    If the IRS isn't worried about Romney's tax returns, you shouldn't be either.

    August 24, 2012 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  15. GG

    Romney has become a gong farmer stirring around in that cesspit of a campaign to gin up hate.

    August 24, 2012 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  16. rs

    So, Mr. Romney is back to the "Birther" line and has the gall to whin about questions regarding his integrity and his taxes?
    In the past week the Republicans have re-fired the "War on Women" by placing the rights of rapists and zygoyes aboe those of American women; they have announced that despite the fact the Supreme Court struck down most of Arizona's noxious "papers please " law on illegal immigration that they want that as a model for federa law; and now we're back to birtherism?

    They simply must want to lose badly in November. The majority of Americans are against them on each point, and they have virtually no positive polling with minorities. Radicalism will be their end.

    August 24, 2012 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  17. truth hurts

    Liberals can't even read it appears. Romney was talking about HIS birth place and birth certificate, not Obama's. I guess any time a politician mentions a birth certificate now it means they are talking about Obama. This sounds like some sort of Obama narcisistic medical issue to me. Believe it or not libtards, not everything revolves around or refers to the dunce in the Whitehouse.

    Obama's own words and deeds are why many people question his birth place. He sure didn't get off to a good start by apologizing to the world. And it has been all down hill since.

    August 24, 2012 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  18. Ferret out the B.S.

    He loves to stirr up lies and hatred, speak half truths, and descend to the lowest form of political behavior. Besides no one but yourself gives a rat's ass where you were born.

    August 24, 2012 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  19. 2buttercups

    I'd love to see your bank statements, tax returns and know how many offshore accounts you have!

    August 24, 2012 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  20. Jack

    Who would have guessed that alexithymic Mitt could end up being a bigger JERK than Donald Trump? Smell of desperation?

    August 24, 2012 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  21. raydantzler

    He is doing anything that hurts The Presidents favorability numbers. He is trying to bring that number down. That's why these topics are being used. He knows exactly what he said. Romney is trying to win even if it makes him look bad. Welfare,birther, lies on name it and Mitt will use it. He is truly sad as a human being. It must b tough for him not knowing what he stands for...

    August 24, 2012 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  22. Jules

    Raised in MI where he held a kid down to cut off his hair in the swankiest of schools, Cranbrook. He has a bit of a problem with humor, don't you think. You can have smart people with a lousy sense of humor, but you cannot have someone with a great sense of humor who is not smart. That he even brought the subject up is just another lie he is trying to propagate.

    August 24, 2012 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  23. Rudy NYC

    Age of Fools.....wrote

    We don't know much about Gov Romney...this is what we hear over and over....yet after almost four years in the White House....How much do we really know about Obama?
    Here's one that actually doesn't watch Fox News. Must be a Limbaugh customer.

    August 24, 2012 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  24. Sniffit

    "The governor has always said, and has repeatedly said, he believes the president was born here in the United States."

    He continued: "He just knows that in order to win, he has to convince all the racist bigots out there that he's on their side and will cater to their nonsense. He wasn't saying he agrees with them...he was just saying "hey guys, if you want a POTUS who may not agree with you, but wil tolerate racism, bigotry and discrimination , then I'm your puppet...I mean man."

    I have troubel even calling this one a "dogwhistle" to the birthers. It was about as blatant as it gets. Mittens is trying to polish up his racism street cred. Pig.

    August 24, 2012 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  25. Eddie The Barber

    Jill – nothing is beneath Romney. He is the bottom – a borne soundrel with a pretty face. He is untransparent and will do anything to get elected – short of nothing. He is a liar and probabaly a cheat. He wants to be president because he thinks he deserves to be president and it will be a disaster of he wins and actually has to govern. He just found a way to bring up the Birther thing again. He said that we "know he was born in Michigan" but I don't know that and I don't give a damn where he was born. He's just trying to find some cover – change the subject – so he doesn't have to answer questions about women's reproductive rights this week. Next week he'll be hiding from something else. I think he's hiding from himself.

    August 24, 2012 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
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