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."

- Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

- Check out the CNN Electoral Map and Calculator and game out your own strategy for November.

"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. The Hammer

    Romney/Ryan will win by a landslide. Bets anyone? Anyone? Didn't think so.
    Blunt force trauma to lefties in November. I can hear the squealing now.

    August 24, 2012 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  2. DENNA

    Yeah, just keep on asking for that birth certificate. After all, it worked so well the first time.

    August 24, 2012 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  3. Ricardo Navarrete

    I don't care about OdumbA's birthcertificate. What America has wanted to see for the last 4 years are his college transcripts. Everyone who runs for presient has shown us their school records, but this clown. OdumbA has refused to show them and has acutally sealed his and that moran of a wife's school records. WHY? What is the Obamination hiding. If that self-proclaimed smartest man in the history of the world has nothing to hide then show America your transcript. Show us those transcripts OdumbA. Long live FOX News... that always makes liberals tremble.

    August 24, 2012 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  4. Real Patriot

    Well someone should ask to see his birth certificate, cause clearly Romney Charlatan is from another planet. He just has no clue as to what life on earth is all about. Moreover, like the Predator alien, he is an expert shape shifter- always trying to look like whatever you want him to be.

    August 24, 2012 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  5. once upon a horse

    to be fair the president in the past has also made jokes about his birthplace and birth certificate. The difference is that the real classic nutjobs still out there take it all too seriously......just like some of the ones that agreed with Romney. At a pro-Obama rally he would probably would have been booed. Yet the president did make an off-cut shot at the Romney dog story the other day so I guess all is even.

    August 24, 2012 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  6. lda

    People yammering on about polygamy should see 2016: Obama's America. Obama's dad was a polygamist, and seemed to baby-daddy it all over the world.

    August 24, 2012 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  7. john

    Personally, i still seriously doubt that Obama was born in Hawaii. Releasing an offical birth certificate is such a simply matter, so why didn't he do so, when the campaign started in 2008? What was he hiding?
    Maybe if romney takes over the white house and the house is controlled by republicans, they can have an officlal investigation and if they find, he was NOT born in the U.S., e can watch his butt ne sent off to some federal prison, where actually he belongs already.
    I just hope, obamas worst problems begin after he is defeated.

    August 24, 2012 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  8. DENNA

    @Steve Lyons – Just win the election Romney then sign an executive order releasing ALL of Obama's records so you can unwind his crippling legacy.
    .Really? Seriously? Are you on something? You people have had 3 1/2 years to come up with some new material. What's wrong.? Faux News stuck in neutral?

    August 24, 2012 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  9. TaxEvaderAsWell

    I guess I'm the only intelligent person who doesn't care that Mitt is actually smart enough to be able to use the tax code to his advantage. Why not reduce what we "owe" to the government in deductions. People like Mitt and his so called elitist are the ones financially backing this country with their millions in taxes paid. Get over it people. I use every deduction I can to reduce my tax burden as much as possible and everyone should as well. That's why the tax codes are written that way so smarter people can use them. Get off your duffs and find every exemption you can to reduce your taxes to the teens. I am a middle class worker with a combined income of less than 75000. Through some research I was able to reduce my tax burden to 22% this past year. That being said this was a definite jab at the birther conspiracy. Although I do believe Obama was born in the US he is still unqualified to run this country. He has put us into a debt spiral that may be impossible to overcome. And no once and for all it was not Bush's fault. He's had his time to overcome the so called Bush years problems he inherited. Time for change in November. Wish it was Paul but Romney will have to do.

    August 24, 2012 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  10. John Frost

    Romney Means Honor, Family, Country and God
    Obama means lying leeching,looting,cheating,electoral fraud.

    August 24, 2012 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  11. DENNA

    Seriously Mitt? Really. Please don't go there. You , Ryan and Akin look foolish enough as it is!

    August 24, 2012 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  12. jmac

    LOL – Put a fork in him, Obama is done!!!

    August 24, 2012 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  13. jmac

    Why hasn't Obama released his college records?? What is he hiding?????

    August 24, 2012 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  14. tigerakabj

    I don't care if Mitt was born on Planet Who-Haw. I want to see those tax returns going back not just 10 years, but to 1984 when he started Bain Capital. He should do better than his dad and double the release years.

    The way Harry Reid spoke, I think he already knows what's in them. The trick is this - let Mitt officiall claim the nomination. Don't hit him too hard. After that? Take him out of the race.

    At this point I don't even want to hear his concession speech (and he will lose). I want President Obama and the Dems to light him up so bad not only do the battleground states go blue, but traditional red states like Texas, Missouri, Montana, and North Dakota either go blue or get so close as to warrant a clear mandate for the blue team.

    Run up the score. Make Mitt feel sorry he ever got into this race had the audacity to engage stupid, discredited rumors he knows aren' true. After November 7th, I would just keep running those ads about offshore tax havens b/c this goes further than Mitt. It goes to the heart of what we want to be as a society. And I'm confident that the majority of America wants no part of Mitt or his reprehensible 1% reality that he represents.

    Obama/Biden/E.Warren 2012

    August 24, 2012 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  15. TK

    Lighten up libs! Geez you'd think after the joke of a president and vp you put in office you would appreciate a little humor. Your mock outrage is so childish and pathetic. Where else but CNN?

    August 24, 2012 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  16. HAL Gal

    Still haven't heard the explanation for why the current president told his literary agent many years ago that he was born in Kenya. They believed him of course and included it in his biographical info when promoting his book "Dreams of My Father". He never corrected them, so that birthplace remained on the record, until just a few months ago, when someone brought it to light.

    I honestly have no idea if he was born in Kenya or the United States. I cannot say with absolute certainty either way. But what I do know, is that for the sitting president of the United States to be shamed into finally producing a copy of his Hawaii birth records by a private citizen who yelled loud enough, was a sad day for the respected office of the president of the United States.

    August 24, 2012 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  17. ChickPet

    One thing you can no longer miss when the Obama posters are at work, that nice locker room odor. Lotta sweatin' goin' on out there. Bring on November!

    August 24, 2012 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  18. Crosscut

    Finally after four wasted years America will be led by two educated, intelligent and experienced gentlemen, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.

    August 24, 2012 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  19. Wayne in NC

    "Of course, humor needs a punch-line or it's not a joke. "

    CNN is a joke without a punch-line, a big joke. If they turned off CNN in airports and doctors' offices, no one would be watching.

    August 24, 2012 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  20. Charles Levett

    Oh Romney you felon you. Soon Americans will learn that you took the 2009 tax amnesty for hiding offshore accounts. You have committed at least three felonies:tax evasion, filing a false return and fliing a false FBAR. You're a crook.

    August 24, 2012 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  21. Bill

    That's right, Mitt. No one has ever asked for your birth certificate. That's because, unlike Mr. Obama's opponents/your supporters, liberals aren't mentally unbalanced conspiracy theory nuts that have a tough time dealing with any sort of reality they don't agree with. More rational people have, however, asked for your tax returns and, unlike Mr. Obama with his birth certificate, you have refused to disclose them. I know Obama isn't hiding anything. The same can't be said of you.

    August 24, 2012 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  22. gord

    if mitt gets in gorge washington will be out joseph smith will be the new founding father

    August 24, 2012 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  23. Don

    You got to love this!! A birth certificate joke and Dems are crying........saying Romney caused the death of someone's wife was OK though???????????? And you guys call us hypocritical.......... lololololololololololololololololololol

    August 24, 2012 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  24. Three3

    Come now, 'crats. It was simply a joke, and you know that.

    August 24, 2012 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  25. motke56

    birth cerificate?????? how about the university's transcript of records also. will mitt do it???? well, with OBAMA will he or won't he???? it's almost 4 years, am still in doubt here ......

    August 24, 2012 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47