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. suazann

    Sarah Palin has more smarts in her little fingertip than Obummer in his whole miserable body. This clown hasn't got one idea how to run this country. Handing out tax payer's money is the only thing he knows and rewarding his buddies the guy in charge of GE who doesn't pay a dime of taxes. That doesn't seem to bother the libs for a moment.

    August 24, 2012 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  2. Thaw

    Romney is a first class liar, idiot and he follows rather than leads. If Trump or Limbaugh says jump ; he jumps !!! People like him are usually, bullies and have no backbone to be a leader. Not the characteristics one needs for the President. This man thinks that making a very sarcastic and stupid remark makes him look "big" NO Mr. Romney these type of remarks make you look what you are. A very, very silly little man !!!!!!

    August 24, 2012 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  3. DENNA

    @ 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.
    Maybe the left would say something if the right would stop the constant lies that are told on President Obama. No matter WHAT happens in November, he will still be among the presidents of the United States. Realistic.

    August 24, 2012 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  4. skytours

    It was a quip people – grow up. Jay Leno throws harder jabs at the president every week.

    August 24, 2012 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  5. Brian Macker

    "Of course, humor needs a punch-line or it's not a joke."
    The punch line is implicit because Obama doesn't act like he was born here and loves America, and neither does his wife.

    August 24, 2012 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  6. Jim Carter

    Very cool. Mitt needs to show more stones like this. Clearly the birther thing is crap, but if Obama wants to play dirty you have to take it if you're gonna give it.

    August 24, 2012 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  7. Mr. Michigan

    Seriously, whose job is it to verify both Barry Sotero and Mitt Romney's actual paper, long form brith certificate? I want that on primetime TV. And Mitt can bring his tax returns if Barry brings his college transcripts. This sounds excellent, no?

    August 24, 2012 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  8. JamesT

    Obama and God have one thing in common...neither of them can produce a birth certificate.
    The difference is...God doesn't think he's Obama.

    August 24, 2012 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  9. JamesT

    Obama and God have one thing in common...neither of them can produce a birth certific@te.
    The difference is...God doesn't think he's Obama.

    August 24, 2012 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  10. socal63

    Mitt, you need to break out your college records, and then ask obammie to do the same...

    August 24, 2012 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  11. Peggy Munro

    Romney meant it. Look at his face and posture while he is uttering those words. I do not support Romney but daily I am losing respect for him. I do not think he is suited to become President.

    August 24, 2012 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  12. anthony76

    Obama proved he is a citizen. Romney has not proved he paid taxes.

    August 24, 2012 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  13. georgex

    Mr. Romney' sense of humor may inspire some who have pushed this birth certificate issue after it was settled for sane people to continue the disillusionment. But I think for serious people the fate of the republic is not really a laughing matter
    I suppose his humor extended to his leadership in college when he lead a bunch of guys to chase down and pin down a student who Romney thought had long hair and cut the hair.
    Ha, ha, real funny guy.

    August 24, 2012 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  14. barbraS

    Mitt's an anchor baby!

    August 24, 2012 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  15. bigcheez

    Mom, Mitt is picking on me again.

    August 24, 2012 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  16. allhaileris

    People DO continue to believe that President Obama was not born in the United States. People believe he won't release even the smallest piece of his college records because they will show he attended as a foreign exchange student. I'm not sure how I feel, but I do think it's strange that he won't release any college records. No law requires him to do so, so I guess we'll never know.

    August 24, 2012 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  17. bb

    So according to what I'm reading here, Obama is a Nazi, hateful and divisive, just like the left are calling Romney because he makes jokes about his birth certificate too. Just where was all this uproar in March when Obama joked about his birth certificate with Ireland's Prime Minister? Dems are just Humorless hypocrites.

    August 24, 2012 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  18. Millard_Fillmore

    My my my, listen to all the Obamabots getting all drummed up about their foreign born savior getting his ears tugged by Mitt. Nobody's more guilty of being a birther than Obama himself. He's the one that let it be known he was born in Kenya so that his books would seem more exotic coming from a foreign born author. You think he didn't verify his bio from the publisher? For several years? Are you serious? This is the most narcissistic man in the history of the office - and that's saying a lot - and it's an absolute guarantee that he not only wrote it, but verified it through every change, and he's the one that started the birthplace controversy. You wanna get all worked up about it? Fine. But it isn't going to impact the election at all. Most Americans could care less where Obama was born, they just want him to leave. And those who want no jokes made about Obama - your time is past. The next 2 decades will be filled wih Obama jokes, so get used to it.

    August 24, 2012 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  19. runphas7

    Noooooo, you know that is not so. President Obama was vetted inside and out and inside and out 12 more times 4 years ago. If there were any problems he would never have become the nominee. Why don't you people understand that. Oh I know why: A few decades ago, there was a dumbing down of the american education system. A lot of americans lack the ability to think critically, form and deliver concrete opinions. AND express themselves in an intelligent manner. No ONE who is nominated for the office of the President of the United States walks into the position without being squeaky clean. That is fact!!!!! Mitt has been caught in lie after lie, and he off shored our jobs to china and other countries along with refusing to show his taxes. bet youall showed your taxes when you bought your home. Just saying!

    August 24, 2012 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  20. DENNA

    @ Susan – Romney should be President and lead our country back to properity. Get out of the handout lines and get yourself back to work. Romney and Ryan for good leadership. Good speech in Milford......go GOP go!
    --------------------------------------------------Right! GOP You still have a country you need to destroy. The middle class still exists!

    August 24, 2012 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  21. Ricardoh

    I hope Romney keeps using that line. Gets you libs all fired up. May even make you forget there was 15 murders in the democrat city of Chicago last night. Isn't Chicago the city Obama moved to when he first came to the United States

    August 24, 2012 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  22. John

    There are very interesting facts about Obama's supposed "birth Certificate" names changed, places, changed, Items listed did not exist. I.E. we HAVE a DEVOUT MUSLIM brotherhood member non-citizen as out president! And he is about to destroy the USA.

    August 24, 2012 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  23. Shelley Ann Burke

    Mitt, take your last bow OUT!! Birther jokes not cool for a serious candidate.

    August 24, 2012 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  24. Powerbar

    Where are Obama's college transcripts? Locked away because they would show he was a foreign exchange student. He may have been born in America but he identified more with his fathers country than his mothers until he became a Senator. He still doesn't get America and never will. That's why everything he touches falls apart. You people who are going to vote for Obama even though his first term has been an unmitigated disaster are hopeless.

    August 24, 2012 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  25. Max

    Romney has every right to discuss the truth about BHO with the American public. Most of us know what BHO is about: he is 100% fake. The original birthers were the Clintons. Bill was set to announce this during the 2008 Primary, until he received a thinly-veiled threat against his daughter. He backed down, but he knows the truth like many of us do, about BHO. BHO will be soundly defeated in the next election.

    August 24, 2012 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
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