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. Senses

    His campaign is now bailing water . Good ! keep on bailing because your man on the ticket has just opened the doors for: OBAMA showed his birth certificate.. now show your taxes ! What are you hiding ? Foot in mouth, once again ! keep on yakking Romney !

    August 24, 2012 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  2. HelloDolly

    This man (Romney) is a disgrace to the American people. This man is not fit to be president of the United States. This man has no integrity and every American should vote against this man. We must vote for President Obama to save the middle class. It is urgent. This is not about black and white this is about our livelyhood. If Romney is in office we will have no Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Education, and Energy Department. America please ignore Romney and his racist remarks. Romney is trying his best to distract attention away from his tax evader problem. Romney and the top 1% do not want to pay taxes.

    August 24, 2012 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  3. CarmenSo

    Wow Mittens you must be desperate

    August 24, 2012 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  4. roro

    Romney is disgusting. What about his family living in Mexico? Can he prove he WASN'T BORN THERE? This is a new low for him.

    August 24, 2012 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  5. Mike

    Not a bad ploy. If Obama pushes to hard for Romney's tax records, Romney has a legitimate response. Obama would either have to basically shut up or put out.

    August 24, 2012 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  6. Kevin

    "No one has ever asked to see my birth certificate."

    Yes, we asked the more important question "where are your tax returns" but you refused to answer.

    August 24, 2012 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  7. Harry Bradford

    The Shape Shifter accidently shook the etch-a-sketch again.

    August 24, 2012 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |

    Such a stupid, stupid man!!! What a convention with such losers as Gingrich, Sheriff A. from Arizona the clown Trump, all they need to top off the stupidity is Palin. Heaven help us!! Obama 2012

    August 24, 2012 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  9. Abby

    Yeah but they asked to see his taxes. At least obama produces his birth certificate

    August 24, 2012 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  10. Kahdir

    Where were the birthers when his father ran for office?
    (George W. Romney – born in Mexico)

    August 24, 2012 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  11. EricMD

    A fringe of conservatives, CNN? Really? I'm a Democrat and even I question Obama's birthplace. He's lived in several different countries. Officials in Kenya have claimed Obama was born there. What are we to do with THAT information? It is only natural then to question his birthplace and has nothing to do with race.

    August 24, 2012 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  12. Indy

    Donald Trump is as low as you can go then there's Mitts in the gutter spewing up the birther movement. Romney just can't get support outside his base and here is another reason why he will never get the independent vote.

    Myviewis said:
    Obama became president in 2008 and produced his long form birth certificate in 2011, 3 years later, I guess Romney can follow Obama's footsteps and if elected can then release his tax returns 3 years into his presidency.

    In case you missed it Obama released his birth certificate to the FBI,CIA,Secret Service,RNC,DNC when he became a Senator and then again when he was vetted for the Presidency,time to wake up and think

    August 24, 2012 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  13. MAJ1978

    Does Mitt feel left out that no one has asked for his birth certificate? Well, Obama went beyond what was required of him and released his certified birth certificate. Maybe Mitt should do the same and release another eight years of his tax returns.

    BTW, it is also good to see that Mitt now agrees with Obama's statement that the private sector is doing just fine, since Mitt now says that "big businesses" are doing just fine with their money, since they know where to put it, what offshore accounts to move it into. Or is this another instance where Mitt is flip-flopping on a position? he sure ripped into Obama a few months ago for making his statement private companies, and now Mitt comes out and says the same basic thing. Hmmmm.....

    August 24, 2012 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  14. kenredbar

    What is Romney hiding by not revealing 10 years of tax returns? Did have to pay additional taxes during the amnesty periodf? Did he actually pay taxes over the last 10 years?

    August 24, 2012 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  15. Alois

    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.

    R.I.P. Damon, That was a perfect analogy. Deadbeat obama and his super corrupt administration have been off the rails since 2008

    August 24, 2012 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  16. Here-we-Go-again

    I want to see Biden's birth certificate. Looks suspect. Maybe he was born on another planet. Or,just acts that way.

    August 24, 2012 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  17. Bugg33

    Wow. This is why he won't release his tax returns. He makes one sarcastic remark (btw, sarcasm is a form of humour, if you didn't know) and this happens. Just imagine if Obama's team saw he donated a bunch of money to a certain charity. Boom, that charity starts taking fire. What if Romney gave money to his church? Uh oh, he must be too extreme to run.

    But if Obama says Romney will kill people, has killed people, will ruin America, he's seen as just another politician. So Obama's team can blast out proven lies and horrible accusations, but Romney can't say a sarcastic remark? Wow.

    August 24, 2012 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  18. Sueb

    It was not a swipe at Obama-
    Yeah, right; I believe that as much as I believe his various excuses for not releasing his tax returns! It was a low shot, Mr. Romney!

    August 24, 2012 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  19. independent

    RIP Damon, the difference is who said what. The Obama PAC, which is independent had the commercial, not the President nor his campaign. Romney, on the otherhand, is just an ignorant rich white guy who doesn't seem to know anything about the rest of America.

    August 24, 2012 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  20. Lar 5

    Well, Mitt, your birth certificate comment made Limbaugh's day. Does that make you happy?

    August 24, 2012 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    Time for some 'jokes' about Mitt being a bully or a tax evader or a polygamist or a Joe Smith crusader or a robot or an out of touch rich guy or a clueless foreign policy speaker or a etch-a-sketch flip flopper ... the list goes on. Oh, but those would all be 'low blows'. Sorry.

    August 24, 2012 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  22. dm nash

    Yet another example of Romney having NO sense of humor...or humor that is not at someone else's expense. Remember his college days story w/his frat mates holding a guy down and cutting his hair "just for fun".
    ....or yet another act of flailing and saying/doing anything for a vote . 2nd case of "foot in mouth" for the day...
    I, for one do not confuse corporations for people....or find them to be on equal grounds for comparison on taxes.
    In my years as a voter this is first I recall of guy going out of his way to recommend as a business practice offshore accounts and ways to use loopholes (hardly relatable by common citizen) and cheat the government (of which u wish to be President) from collecting taxes -whether legal or not – it's VERY telling of the man. That's about as un-American or patriotic as it comes – who needs a birth certificate to recognize that.

    August 24, 2012 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  23. Doyle Mecham

    It appears the Ron Paul supporters are a bunch of sore losers. Ron Paul is a good man, but if he was the right man for the job he would have won the Primary, he didn't come close. Suck it up Ron Paul supporters.

    August 24, 2012 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  24. Lisa

    I see Mr. Romney asking for a fair campaign, and he cries when he feels he isn't getting his way. But when he says something that seems a little low, it's only a joke. It just shows how Romney feels the rules should apply to everyone EXCEPT for him. I'm so tired of all this political back and forth. I just want the election to be over so I know if I need to move to another country or stay here. The thought of a Romney presidency scares me enough to make me consider moving outside the US for the first time in my life.

    August 24, 2012 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  25. the Rifleman

    Maybe Obama will release his college records & his passports, but they're guarded more tightly than Fort Knox...

    August 24, 2012 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
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