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. ttt

    Yes Mitt, But how about the tax returns?

    August 24, 2012 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  2. Aaronfortner20

    I love how no one complained in 2008, when John McCain and Sarah Palin only released two years of tax returns. Mitt Romney is about to release his third in October. Come on people, we smell the desperation. It's all a diversion, it's the economy, idiots.

    August 24, 2012 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  3. Richard Jones

    I'm sure that if Romney had a problem with a birth certificate, he could get lyin' Dan Rather to do one for him on his computer. You libs better be gettin' ready because you are gonna be hurtin' a whole bunch in about 5 months !!!

    August 24, 2012 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  4. Phades

    The guy has a history of witholding documents and gives reference to another incident of documents being temporarially witheld. In what way was is this supposed to enhance his credibility?

    August 24, 2012 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  5. Pander Express

    In his Friday remarks, Romney's reference was to his own birth certificate, not that of Obama.

    Yeah, right. Someone needs to tell Mittens that he already has the crazy, birther wingnut vote locked up. Comments like this only serve to alienate people with at least half a brain.

    P.S. We are still waiting for the tax returns.

    August 24, 2012 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  6. MidWest

    As far as his tax returns. It took how long for Obama to release his birth certificate??? How many years???? Plus Mitt has released what he was suppose to release. Just because you want to see something does not mean you have the right to see it. I wanted Clinton to keep his hands off interns – that didn't happen. Why are you not asking for Reid's or Pelosi's returns – they have off shore accounts and have made millions from companies that have overseas workers. Oh yeah Clinton sent work out of the country through NAFTA but that was okay. Where is the contempt for that "White Boy". Sad to think that too many are caught up in the media hype that they won't do the research and make an informed decision come November.

    August 24, 2012 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  7. Marie MD

    We know this is a back handed slap at fhe President but I should much rather hVd been born in paradise, Hawaii, than in some cold butt state.

    August 24, 2012 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  8. Laura

    Not only do I want to see your Bc, show us your tax returns and your fathers marriage certificates. Exactly how many sister wives have shaped you?

    August 24, 2012 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  9. sammieb51

    What a jerk. Maybe its because you a white man Mitty - and his followers laugh. What a mindless bunch they are. During the debates they cheered the uninsured guy who died, booed the uniformed soldier who happens to be gay. Nice Christian crowd, one I would hope God would hit with lightning.. And the bigger question is the tax return and SEC issue. Let's all pray he loses his butt in November so we don't have to see him again in 2016 or suffer the long term effects of a Romney/Ryan presidency.

    August 24, 2012 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  10. Karrie

    Trump probably bet Romney $10,000, I dare ya to make that joke.

    August 24, 2012 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  11. Alaskatrailrunner

    Now that you mention it, Mitt... Are you sure you weren't born in Mexico, where your polygamist grandfather ran to escape the law? Your father was born in Colonia Dubl├ín, Chihuahua, MX – how was HE able to run for president???

    August 24, 2012 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  12. ephraim

    Loathsome really...

    We don't want to see your birth certificate, we want to see your taxes! We want to see how you profited from the
    bailout, and the housing crash... When he spoke yesterday of "big businesses doing fine" he really meant it... They
    know how to manipulate the tax code and we want to show you all how to do the same. Like some pyramid scheme.


    August 24, 2012 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  13. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    You've insulted the current, legitimately and duly elected President of the United States of America with that statement.

    I cannot believe that even you Mitt Romney would stoop this low fully knowing that your every word during this "election" is heard, amplified, and printed around this country, around the world.

    Despicable act from someone with no moral compass.
    I am ashamed of you as a fellow American.

    August 24, 2012 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  14. Frank Discussion

    MIdWest, your facts are wrong. You should turn off Fox and check some legitimate sources for your information. And no, that definitely doesn't include Rush and Sean.

    August 24, 2012 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  15. zapper

    One more nail in the romney/ryan coffin.

    August 24, 2012 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  16. raydantzler

    And yesterdays energy plan has americans footing the bill for the Koch brothers to gut this country financially. This is how you pay your debts if elected. Nothing new in his plan...More Drill baby drill......Which is the same song that we have heard many times in the past.

    August 24, 2012 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  17. Getitright

    Would love to see the tax returned instead

    August 24, 2012 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  18. Griff.

    "Away to go, Romney!!! You rub it in! There is ts more salt to come for Obama, and licking his wounds wont help!"

    August 24, 2012 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  19. ted

    The GOP/RNC leadership as well as Romney need to dispel the whole birther thing by saying that Obama's birth certificate has been vetted by the federal government and it is real. They continue to vaguely say they believe he was born in Hawaii. It is trick of semantics and it is wrong. The GOP/RNC are being disingenuous on this subject.

    August 24, 2012 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  20. ObamaCares

    This poor excuse of a human has reached an all time low. Pre. Obama is a citizen of the US and for this nut to make such a statement is below human dignity.

    August 24, 2012 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  21. blue19

    I just want to see I understand this Mitt: Obama's team asks to see your tax returns so the voters can see how the system is stacked in favour of the rich and you tell him to take his anger and hate back to Chicago but you can joke about the retarded birther issue and that's fair game. Just trying to get a handle on how big your double standards are there Mittens.

    August 24, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  22. tefera

    We ask your tax return of the last 10 years. We do not want ur birth cirtificate. We want to know how u r trust worthy?Mr.Romney. if u want independent's vote, show ur tax return of the last 10 years atleast. This is prinsiple of the Bible.Those who r faith full with the small, they would be faithful with the big one.Let me see ur tax return then I will believe u as a president!

    August 24, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |

    Willard, how are you going to be a UNITER when you're spewing birther crap? Just last week you were saying the President was running campaign of hate. You should look in the mirror. You shot yourself in the foot by not releasing your taxes. You might as well put the trigger to your head now after those birther comments idiot. Your dad was born in Mexico. I'm not too sure you're an American. You may have been brought here by no fault of your own. Now that you bring it up, I do want to see your birth certicate, along with your tax returns.

    August 24, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  24. sheila

    Ok that was a funny joke! It was as funny as many of the jokes Obama has made about Romney and other Republicans. People really need to lighten up. If you can't laugh at this circus, then we're in a world of hurt.

    August 24, 2012 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  25. myviewis

    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.

    August 24, 2012 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
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