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. Shannon

    Hey Mitt, I want to see your birth certificate and throw in those tax returns while you're at it. What are you hiding.

    August 24, 2012 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  2. Chris

    Liberals, you guys can dish it out but you certainly can't take it. At least Romney said it as a joke, liberals fabricate stories and try to make them stick like mud on the wall. Obama is going down as the worst President in the history of this country.

    August 24, 2012 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  3. Ha ha

    Yeah, what a joke! Some people refuse to accept the President was born in Hawaii, even though there's a certified copy of his birth certificate! Ha, ha! But, me, Mitt Romney, I'M not making that statement – I'm just using it to get votes and appeal to the lowest natures of extremists, and maybe even saying what I really believe, showing I share that lower nature! Yeah, what a joke!

    August 24, 2012 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  4. DandyStryker

    What a sleezbag this guy is. Hey, Mitt!, you lying crook, show us your TAX returns.

    August 24, 2012 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  5. gordyb

    Romney is a birther, wow, appeal to the racist base, nice?

    August 24, 2012 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  6. russ wilber

    Mitt is such a small person. Person not man. very small. Stepford Mitt. Show us your manipulated, fraudulent tax return. What are your hiding? $100 million IRA? Tell us about your off shore investments. so patriotic. Your a lying racist moron.

    August 24, 2012 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  7. nobikiniatoll

    You're right, your case what everyone wants to see are your tax returns. And your Magic Underwear.

    August 24, 2012 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  8. LOLOL

    What I love is that the republicans there don't see the backhanded compliment–Romney's basically telling them they're racist since he's never been asked for a birth certificate but they ask President Obama. And, they cheer. Maybe next time, he should just wear the pointy white hat for their votes.

    August 24, 2012 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  9. Michael

    I don't care who you are...that's funny 🙂

    August 24, 2012 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  10. v4865


    August 24, 2012 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  11. kathy

    Show your tax returns A_ _ hole.

    August 24, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  12. mane

    And Rmoney will turn around and say the president is running a nasty campaign. Mr. Rmoney, we know where you were born with a golden foot in your mouth, what we don't know is what is in your taxes. Can you share that info. please.

    August 24, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  13. David

    Of course Romneys dad was born in a Mexican Polygamist compound – yeah Romney should release his birth certificate along with his taxe returns. Really there are so many questions around his taxes that he is hiding he is not a serious candidate until he gives the people the info they need to know.

    August 24, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  14. Mitt Romney

    Next I'm going to ride around in a circle honking my horn with a dog on my roof, and I'll be representing for the Republicans! Wooo! Come on, you love me, admit it! I'm just like YOU!

    August 24, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |

    Mitt Romney acted like d-bag today. He forgot to be a statesman and that will alienate the independent voters.

    August 24, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  16. Mormon

    As a fellow Mormon, I find Mitt Romney to be offensive and a poor representative of the people.

    August 24, 2012 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |

    I don't care who you are...that's funny

    August 24, 2012 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |

    Rationalist care. And it's not funny. What's funnier, though, is you and your irrational frame of mind. Grow up.

    August 24, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  18. Mel

    Lots of people have asked to see the tax returns. If he had nothing to hide he would release them like everyone has done. He clearly evaded taxes otherwise his money would have been in US banks. His returns will eventually come out, he gave them to McCain's people, someone will leak them sooner or later.

    August 24, 2012 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  19. phoenx86

    Nice to see how sensitive liberals are when they're not busy sleeze bagging anyone who has a different opinion from them.

    August 24, 2012 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  20. rosie


    Message approved by the Tea Party for the Destruction of America

    August 24, 2012 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  21. TheVoice2

    Mitt Phony's motto "vote me President now, give you details later".

    Where are your tax returns??????

    August 24, 2012 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |

    >Mitt Romney acted like d-bag today. He forgot to be a statesman and that will alienate the independent voters.

    Not likely. They have a sense of humor.

    August 24, 2012 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  23. C. Avilos

    Actually, Mitt. You can include the birth certificate in the same disclosure package that contains your tax returns (and details of off-shore money accounts) for the last 10 years.

    August 24, 2012 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  24. Lisa P


    Hey Floyd,
    Here's a news flash buddy, Presidents don't rule. They lead the country they represent. Were not a Marxist country yet.
    August 24, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm
    Or a plutocracy, though the Republicans and their anonymous corporate and billionaire supporters are doing their darnedest to turn us into one. Dictatorships aren't about ideology, though ideology (of all stripes) is one of the tools they employ. Dictatorships are about power, and the powerful people in America today are trying very hard to make theirs permanent. Follow the money and you will discover the truth.

    August 24, 2012 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  25. John D Horgan

    This guy could possibly win, he has the same IQ as George W, and the people you are backing him are also in need of a brain transplant!

    August 24, 2012 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
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