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. SurRy

    "no one has ever asked to see my birth certificate." Maybe they should Mittens. Didn't your grandfather leave the US to live in Mexico so he practice his Mormon faith and polygamy? How do we know where you were born?

    August 24, 2012 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  2. SurRy

    All this tells me is that Mittens' internal polls are terrible. He's got nothing left. Even that idiot Sara Palin gave McCain a little bump in the polls.

    August 24, 2012 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  3. bcm

    Again, just another hypocritical republican. He brings up the birther issue and it's a "joke." However, when Obama brings up anything about Romney (whch there is plenty) it's a "low blow." How can you people even stand Mitt Romney? How do we know he wasn't born in Mexico? We don't!

    August 24, 2012 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  4. R.I.P. Damon

    This is great. Obama's campaign essentially implies that Romney is responsible for a woman's death and that he's a felon and there isn't one shred of disgust from the left. But Romney make one birth certificate, and liberals go off the rails. Pathetic.

    August 24, 2012 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  5. Bugl3t

    It's kind of like resorting to using a comparison to Hitler or calling someone a nazi... it simply means you have no real arguments to win the debate. And isn't Trump one of his good buddies? Trump is a public "birther" nut.

    August 24, 2012 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  6. SurRy

    Can't wait until those tax returns surface. Money in foreign countries. Taxes paid to foreign countries instead of the USA? Made millions betting against American homeowners during housing meltdown? Took advantage of the IRS amnesty to bring back illegal Swiss accounts? Bain/Steri Cycle made tens of millions disposing of aborted fetuses. Oh it's gonna be good.

    August 24, 2012 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  7. Bob

    The article says a 'fringe' of the republican membership – I think polls suggest about 50% of repubs don't believe Obama was born in America.

    August 24, 2012 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  8. Michael

    That's right, nobody asked to see your birth certificate; just your TAX RETURNS !!!!

    August 24, 2012 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  9. Joe

    Maybe if Obama and his media cheerleaders can't take the comment, he should leave the race and the media should find another job? You're running for President – with the overt backing of almost all of the morons in the media – and you're going to whine about Romney's jokes, while you're accusing him of murder and committing a felony?

    You dragged the campaign into the gutter, Obama, deal with it. And media, you're not fooling anyone.

    August 24, 2012 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  10. W Rawle

    Here is what Romney said about the doctor (Jack C. Willke) who gave Rep. Akin the medical advice.

    "“I am proud to have the support of a man who has meant so much to the pro-life movement in our country,” Romney said in the statement. “He knows how important it is to have someone in Washington who will actively promote pro-life policies. Policies that include more than appointing judges who will follow the law but also opposing taxpayer-funded abortion and partial-birth abortion.”"Romney Campaign Press Relelase, October, 2007

    August 24, 2012 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  11. Susan P

    His minioins said he 'believes' Obama was born in the US. Then why did he say the obvios to that crowd that he himself was born in Michigan, why bring it up? Don't they already know he is from Michigan (or is he....) I guess we have to 'believe' Romney paid all his taxes in the US too and not in other secret bank accounts in tax-free havens.

    August 24, 2012 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  12. Sour Grapes....

    so Gov Romney made lots of money...called the "American Dream" Most American dream to achieve...As far as paying taxes on large incomes....Well Warren Buffet "the Billionaire' often mentioned that he pays a lower tax-rate than his Secretary....and Romney compared to Buffet earns mere if the ultra rich take advantage of all the loopholes that the likes of Harry Reid sanctioned and still has the blessing of Pres Obama...than don't blame Buffet or romney.
    Washington must reform the Tax-code.....period....

    August 24, 2012 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  13. sam

    Never felt so disgusted as by this comment of Mitt!

    August 24, 2012 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  14. gmenfan54

    I'd rather see his rabies and distemper certificate.

    August 24, 2012 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  15. JimK2450

    Mitt wasn’t born, he was whelped, then bred, trained and taught to run, jump and speak on command. No wonder he flinches at the word “vet”!

    August 24, 2012 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  16. Steve

    20% of the population this persists with. Obama himself said he'd failed to tell his story. 20% of the population is evidence of that and if it persists and bites him in the rear then it is no ones fault but his own by his own admission.

    August 24, 2012 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  17. Cyprustree

    Getting a little desperate, are you Mittens? You're going to trot alongside the birthers now? How pathetic.

    August 24, 2012 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  18. ???

    Of course no one is asking to see your birth certificate, Mitt, we all know you were not "born", robots are constructed. You probably have a serial number though.....

    August 24, 2012 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  19. wondering999

    A remark like that just goes to show that Gov. Romney has no class.

    August 24, 2012 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  20. noteaparty4me

    Romney playing one of the few cards he has left, the RACE CARD!

    August 24, 2012 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    Mittens you have been evading your tax responsibility for years. You are trying to distract people for asking for your return by making these racist remarks. Sorry, it will not work. Hate is not for the American people and Mittens you are not fit to be president of the United States.

    August 24, 2012 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  22. Darrell W.

    It's about time Governor Romney. Now ask him why he hasn't released his college records and medical records. And what's up with Obama using someone else's Soc. Sec. Number? What about that forged Selective Service application? And ask him why he couldn't have done a better job in forging a short form and long form birth certificate. The American people have the right to know.

    August 24, 2012 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  23. CooperinCO

    In other news, our deficit is about to hit 16 trillion. Wake up sheeple!!!

    August 24, 2012 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  24. BOZO

    Reid/Pelosi: I was asked my birth certificate since I was in elementary school... well Obama should show his trashbirthier anyway in exchange for Mitt 1040 tax form.... if these all people caimpaign for or asked for then we should not have election!

    August 24, 2012 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  25. Corey

    Mitt was born in a polygamous compound in Mexico like his father was, but they cooked the books in Michigan to make it appear that he was born there. Show us your Birth Certificate us your Federal and State tax returns as well, you tax cheat

    August 24, 2012 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
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