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. No wanna be here

    Guess he needed to throw a little kibble for the suckers. Hey Mitt, why don't you share your taxes for all the on lottery ticket away from the rich GOP voters so they can see how trickle down is working in their favor.

    August 24, 2012 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  2. Freeman111

    Watch them come out of the woodwork, "oh he's racist"! Hogwash, Romney has more presidential material in one finger then Obama. Obama calls Mitt a felon, wife killer, etc... And you don't complain about that!
    Democrats point of view is, if your running against Obama, you're a racist. What a joke!

    August 24, 2012 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  3. DannyVice

    I love how CNN insists it is neutral in its reporting, yet it's forums are filled with rabid, foaming at the mouth liberals who hate their country, butcher their unborn babies, cry like toddlers because someone earns more than them. Come at me you sick, twisted black holes without souls. November is coming and there's nothing you can do to stop the complete routing Dems are about to take. It began in 2010, and will be completed in 2012.

    August 24, 2012 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  4. Handy mom

    Just heard a great quote. Obama's America is a better life for Obama and his friends like Valerie Jerrad. We cannot believe a word this guy says. omg

    August 24, 2012 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  5. lucysmom08

    My husband was born in Detroit and remembers when George Romney was Governor. Proof positive Mitt is a natural born citizen.

    August 24, 2012 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  6. Bawanna

    It does not matter a whole lot who wins now. The course has been set.

    August 24, 2012 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  7. Bob Wilke

    Absolutely love it when Democrats go beserk over a little humorous remark.I hope that the Dog-eater's Kool-aid drinkers have a stroke over this one. Given that Obama thinks we have 57 States and can't spell Ohio, I'd love to see his college transcripts.

    August 24, 2012 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  8. jay

    Good for Romney ! Go see the movie Obama's America 2016 opened up nation wide today

    August 24, 2012 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  9. Betty

    Obama sure has some thin skin. I saw Romney's comment and I didn't see him mention Obama in it. Romney was talking about himself and his home town. So why does Obama think everything is about him? It reminds me of that old song "You're So Vain."

    August 24, 2012 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  10. Handy mom

    Watch 2016, explains so much. Are you really supporting this man? It deserves the question.

    August 24, 2012 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  11. lucysmom08

    LMAO! My husband was born at Harper hospital, too. He remembers when George Romney was Governor of Michigan when he was growing up (this was Mitts father for those who are clueless.) .

    August 24, 2012 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  12. jackblitte

    When Obama care robbed medicare of $760 billion then blamed it on the Republicans for trying to fix it...Cost $760 billion. Unemployment rate increased to 8.3% and CBO predicts 9.5% by this time next year and yet Bush got blamed for it.,,Cost 400,000 jobs. Gas prices increasing blames it Americans addiction to oil..Cost 4.25 per gallon. Four years in a row of 1 trillion plus budget deficit and blames it on "not spending enough" to fix the ecomony..Cost 16 Trillion National Debt. Anyone man who could pull this off and not even break a sweat PRICELESS

    August 24, 2012 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  13. Antigone

    In the 1950 and 60s newspapers printed birth announcements as a public service. Birth announcements were not individual items printed by parents. The newspapers would get a alphabetic list from the area hospital and print the info. Obama's announcement is right there, alphabetically in the Sunday Advertiser and in the very exact wording and order in the Star Bulletin. Again, how new babies were announced were printed as a service and not submitted individually.

    August 24, 2012 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  14. Romney is GW Bush on Steriod

    It is amazing how many people are ready to go back to the old ways that got us into this mess.....Romney in terms of Foreign and Domestic policy is Bush on STEROIDS! ROmneys budget would cut domestic spending by 40% which would include cuts in EDUCATION, INFRASTRUCTURE WHICH IS CRUMBLING, VETERAN'S BENEFITS draft dodging Mitt Selective Service records show that Mitt Romney had four draft deferments (between academic deferments and his work with the Mormon church). That's one less deferment than Dick Cheney got), LOW INCOMES PROGRAMS (since they really deserve to be punished for a destroyed surplus thru voodoo economics and endless unfunded bills from prescription drugs, tax cuts to WARS)

    August 24, 2012 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  15. Ken Drift

    Democrats are awfully sensitive to the birth certificate stuff...peculiarly sensitive.

    August 24, 2012 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  16. rtwingteacher

    AHAHAHA! Now THAT'S funny! I don't care WHO you are!

    August 24, 2012 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  17. No Rino's

    Seem's to me that the only reason the Libbie's want to see his tax return's, is because Obama's base doesn't know what one look's like..:)

    August 24, 2012 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  18. dph

    Wow. The left is in a real lather. It's a joke people, lighten up!
    You can tell when the liberals are all atwitter when they start flinging racist charges all over the place. Whenever they get upset they launch the "racist" missiles. Its getting old, tired, and frankly boring.

    Time for Obama to go home...wherever that is 🙂

    August 24, 2012 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  19. Gungy

    A 2 second birth certificate joke makes libs go ballistic. Kinda sounds like the 2 week tsunami libs are still making about show me your tax returns. Why are libs so hypocritical?

    August 24, 2012 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  20. Jonathan Silberger

    No one has needed to question Romney's school records either!!! obama got into college as a foreign student!! How does someone who, by his own admission, get into college when he screwed around during high school years with the chume gang???!!! Answer – As a foreign student!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 24, 2012 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  21. lucysmom08

    I LMAO. I see none of the Alinsky Communists on here have anything resembling a sense of humor. Obama can call Romney a murderer( and he wasn't even working for Bain when that mans plant was shut down, also that mans wife had her own health insurance and didn't seek help ) and a felon ( if Romney owed oney to the IRS they would come after him. How about Geithners tax cheating ways- lets see his.) No one is abetter liar than the psychopath in chief. This has nothing to do with skin color. Just look up the list of lies he has told on fact check.

    August 24, 2012 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  22. hangar13

    Yeah, play this up, keep the subject ANYTHING but the President's performance in office. The media will never talk about the litany of broken promises. Cut the deficit in half – check. Close Gitmo – check. C-Span hearings on health care – check. No tax increases for the non-rich – check. Unemployment never at 8% if the stimulus passes – check. Americans who don't aspire to be like Greece are hoping there will be change in November.

    August 24, 2012 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  23. noteaparty4me

    Ha! Ha! ok its a joke! Now about those tax returns, and no joke! We really want to see those tax returns they say laughing all the way to a second term for President Obama.

    August 24, 2012 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  24. robert

    It appears that Obummer paid lots of attorney fees to seal his college transcripts. You libs in any way concerned why he would do such a thing?

    August 24, 2012 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  25. madhuthangavelu

    delightful, indeed, that a nominee who has yet to lay out his tax records talks about birth certificate. One step at a time, I suppose ? birth ceritifcate followed by high school diploma, then drivers license, Harvard graduation degree certificates...and finally, tax records !

    August 24, 2012 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
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