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. 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 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  2. iodiner

    What are you hiding in your college records, Barry? Foreign exchange student, perhaps?

    August 24, 2012 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  3. rascal69

    It must be the 4th of July all over again...the heads of liberal idiots are exploding in a crescendo of color and fascinating stupidity. I love fireworks.

    August 24, 2012 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  4. Robert

    Obama got all F's & D's in college...........He also applied as a foreign student. That's why he is hiding his transcripts.

    August 24, 2012 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  5. Robert

    I love the responses of the "Gimmedats" You know the folks who sit at home all day begging for hand outs.

    August 24, 2012 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  6. will

    Yes but the one thing we asked for (tax returns) you didn't supply. What makes me think you will give us your birth certificate.

    August 24, 2012 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  7. konaryder

    Wow. Lots of bitter comments from the libs. You people seriously need to pull your heads out of the sand. Obama is BANKRUPTING our country. True unemployment is over 11%. We will be 20 Trillion dollars in debt if we give this joker another 4 years.

    There is no such thing as a free lunch. Our kids are going to pay the price for Obamas follies and schemes. I seriously have to wonder about the integrity of any and all of you if you can sleep at night knowing that you are voting to destroy their collective future.

    Mitt Romney has forgotten more about economics than Obama (or his father) could ever have even dreamed of understanding. Heaven help us if Jamuary doesn't bring us Mitt Romney as President of the United States of America.

    August 24, 2012 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  8. Charly

    "Of course, humor needs a punch-line or it's not a joke."
    Is that reporting, or is it showing media bias?

    August 24, 2012 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  9. Paul

    This is so funny hearing these Dems cry

    August 24, 2012 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  10. lucysmom08

    Where aqre the comments posted after this page? It doesn't say this article is closed to further comments?

    August 24, 2012 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  11. The1

    More people than you can imagine don't believe Obama is an American. He sure doesn't act American.

    August 24, 2012 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    So says the snide, bombastic grandson of Mexican ex-patriots. Just as his grandparents sought shelter from American anti-bigamy laws in a foreign country, Mitt seeks shelters in foreign countries for his money. I guess patriotism isn't in this hypocritcal draft-dodger; but disrespecting our country, and disrespecting those of us who play it straight is in his blood.

    August 24, 2012 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  13. Gary

    Obama is such a cry baby, if he can't take it then he should stop joking about Romneys dog!

    August 24, 2012 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  14. Scaupus

    So says the snide, bombastic grandson of Mexican ex-patriots. Just as his grandparents sought shelter from American anti-bigamy laws in a foreign country, Mitt seeks shelters in foreign countries for his money. I guess patriotism isn't in this hypocritcal draft-dodger; but disrespecting the American people is in his blood. We choose to play it straight and follow not just the rules, but what is moral, like his father did; but Mitt does only what serves himself. I just cannot see how any self-respecting, patriotic conservative can embrace this weasel.

    August 24, 2012 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  15. mike

    Obama's grandmother said twice she was there when he was born in Kenya. Sheriff Joe proved his long form is fake, along with the selective service card. He has spent a lot to keep his college records hidden. Yet the media continues to fail.

    August 24, 2012 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  16. Will Gerard

    Perhaps Sheriff Joe is onto the truth. The only defense the naysayers have is ridicule because they have no factual rebuttals since this was brought up in 2007, just stalling and ridicule. Tell me why Obama's Selective Service registration card looks COMPLETELY different than mine. I filed mine in 1980 also. Obama is a composite of everything and nothing.'s a show about NOTHING!

    August 24, 2012 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  17. NameCharles

    Mitt did have an ancestor who had plural wives in a state and time when it was legal. Around 1890, Cleveland talked Young into changing the law. It seems to me that Romney is miles ahead on.wholesomeness, fiscal wisdom, patriotism,.and not being a Red. And., unless you are an ACORN zombie, I could sit at your kitchen table with you and to agree that the 2011 long form is an abject fraud.

    August 25, 2012 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  18. Mike C

    You liberals must be so scared...every time anything is ever mentioned bad about Obama, you all mention racism. Because you all know that Obama is the worst President we ever had, and you can't defend him, he has been the least transparent President we ever had and you can't defend him, so what do you do, call everyone who is against him racist. Well guess what liberals, it's not going to work this time. Romney is going to be our new President. Polls are showing Romney is winning or in dead heat against Obama in every swing State. And btw, I do question where President Obama was born, I question what his grades were at College, I question everything about him. You know why? Because he refuses to tell us, it took him 3 years to show us a Birth Certificate and even that is questionable. This man is the Manchurian Candidate.

    August 25, 2012 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  19. Will

    Liberals really don't have a sense of humor. LOL.

    August 25, 2012 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  20. Charly

    It just goes to show some people can't take a joke unless they are the ones making it. If also shows you have nothing when you have to resort to bringing up Hitler.

    August 25, 2012 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  21. manfromv

    For this election, for the sake of transparency and peace of mind of the voters. To be fair, let us demand that both Parties and their presidential candidates should show their birth certificates, their tax returns for the last 10 years, their work history and their school transcripts. These should satisfy both sides and stop all these fights over birth certificates and tax returns.

    August 25, 2012 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  22. truthfully

    The whole quote shows it is a joke because he was born in Michigan. He was giving he speech to his hometown crowd. Some people on this thread need to show a little more common sense. Considering his father was Governor of Michigan, I'm not sure why so many keep bringing up a grandfather.

    August 25, 2012 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  23. truthfully

    Unfortunately, they chose not to show the whole quote or what he was speaking on. I think our press deliberately leaves out stuff to make it sound worse. It is the same with the "You didn't build this" Obama quote. When are people going to wake up and realize the press is using us to sell papers and advertising.

    August 25, 2012 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  24. joe d

    pretty damn good without a TelePrompTer!!

    August 25, 2012 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  25. Mr. T.

    Mr. Obama – Your college records please.

    Thank you,
    The American People
    (waiting since 2008!)

    August 25, 2012 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
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