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. RightyTighty

    To quote Debbie Wasserman Schultz on AC360 "IT DOESN'T MATTER".

    August 24, 2012 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  2. Time for a Real Change!

    How long did Obama take to forge, I mean find his "real" birth certificate?

    August 24, 2012 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  3. oknotokok

    JOKE? I think Romney was really serious about this. What can we expect for a guy who believe that 63% of Americans are “Small Minded”?

    August 24, 2012 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  4. Joe

    1) Obama killed America's number 1 enemy,
    2) Obama did not ship American jobs overseas like you did.

    Now let's get back to your tax returns.

    August 24, 2012 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  5. Oscar Pitchfork

    No one ever asked to see Mitt's birth certificate because HIS opponents aren't morons. Obama's, on the other hand, are.

    August 24, 2012 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  6. W Rawle

    Mitt was asked to produce his BC. And he gve it to Reuters News. It does not list the Hospital where he says he was born.

    In the speech he says that he went to Cranbrook, is that the school where he bullied the gay kid? Well, he didn't bully the kid alone, he needed four or five other guys to help him.

    August 24, 2012 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  7. Nate

    Dear Lauri Pierce of Midland,

    You're an idiot.

    August 24, 2012 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  8. Ironiclast

    Romney actually has four birth certificates: one each from the US, Bermuda, Switzerland and the Cayman Islands.

    August 24, 2012 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  9. Gwen

    Tele-prompter Etch- A -Sketch Romney....What more would you expect?...He would sell his soul to the devil just to be president of the United States.I think he has done that with the republicans...They are a buch of devils.....

    August 24, 2012 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    Nobody has asked you to show your birth certificate but a lot of people has asked you to show your tax returnrs for the past 10 years and you have refused to do do. The state of Hawaii showed the President' birth certificate.

    August 24, 2012 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  11. W Rawle

    Romney is linked to doctor who taught Rep. Akin biology.

    “Dr. Willke is a leading voice within the pro-life community and will be an important surrogate for Governor Romney's pro-life and pro-family agenda,” the Romney campaign said in an October 2007 statement." Press Release, Romney Campaign October, 2007

    August 24, 2012 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  12. Discernment


    (1.) – Mitt Romney knows President Obama is an American that was born in Hawaii.

    (2.) – Romney also knows that 67% of the Republican-base either falsely believe President Obama is non-native, or questions his birth.

    (3.) – So Romney jumps into the sewer of hate to blow his “racist-birther Dog-whistle” as a desperate measure to excite GOP-Republican base.

    August 24, 2012 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  13. Mor Man NO!

    Hey Mitt, your not a CHRISTIAN, Mormans do not beleive that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. John 3:16

    August 24, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  14. robwillc

    you are rich and white. no one thinks you are from Kenya! but you are rich and white --we want to see your tax returns! idiot

    August 24, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  15. Ron

    This was a very calculated strategy to raise the question again in spite of all of the evidence. This was a disgusting thing for Romney to do!

    August 24, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  16. lmc2011

    I love that Romney said it. Obama has no problem making dog jokes yet everyone is just so afraid to insult the great Obama. I think Romney should go further and ask that Obama release his medical records. He asked Romney to do the same last week which is funny since Obama never released his.

    August 24, 2012 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  17. Floridian

    No but we have asked to see your tax returns, and unlike Obama, you failed.

    August 24, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 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 |
    Intelligence quotient at or below 80th percentile. Am I right? Yeah, you are right. Independents do have a sense of humor! Have a nice day. 🙂

    August 24, 2012 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  19. sayer

    Have you been to Arizona, Mutt?

    August 24, 2012 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  20. Trey

    Why do we need his tax returns, we know he's rich. Now let's move on. It's ok if Dems are rich but not Rep. Why don't we talk about Obama's record, or lack thereof?

    August 24, 2012 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  21. carlos

    how many grandmothers does the willard have?, he was born to a mexican polygamist sect, well, willard how many do you have??

    August 24, 2012 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  22. mb2010a

    That does it...I'm voting for President Obama.

    August 24, 2012 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  23. tired of the GOP nonsense

    Romney is giving a nod to the birthers. It's shameful that people in the GOP not only tolerate such cr*p, they actually cheer. It's not behavior I would demand for a presidential candidate and certainly not from a President.

    Where are your taxes Mitt?

    August 24, 2012 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  24. Robert

    "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."

    If that's not a sad commentary on the mindset of some people in this country, I don't know what is
    And that's not even considering Myth Maker Mitt turning down desperation avenue today

    August 24, 2012 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  25. Harry Reid

    We didn't have to ask for your birth certificate. The guy at Bain who told me about your tax returns had a copy.

    August 24, 2012 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
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