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. Spencer

    All I'm going to say, EVERYONE, GO SEE 2016 the will open your eyes as to what this nut job is doing to our country. I'm proud to say that I didn't vote for him and I hold my head up high!!!!!! Please go see the movie, and tell all young adults you know to do the same..

    August 25, 2012 03:09 am at 3:09 am |
  2. Cecil

    All the pro-Obama people refuse to admit there are serious questions about Obama's past, especially why he released a fraudulent birth certificate and why he told his publicist in 1991 he was born in Kenya.

    This guy stinks to high heaven. Open your eyes. There are none so blind who will not see.

    August 25, 2012 03:19 am at 3:19 am |
  3. jaydi

    how about 'why arent you talking about the REAL issues like the Dept of Justice's involvement in the Fast and Furious Scandal?"OR the "clinton body count"? You call the cops on your neighbors for smoking a joint but youve got nothing to say about the Cocaine Import Agency running tons and tons of blow into YOUR country! How many cops and kids get killed on the streets of american everyday due to this PHONEY way on drugs MITT??? YOUR A FRAUD!

    August 25, 2012 04:24 am at 4:24 am |

    What a hateful, racist, underhanded, thing to condone or suggest Obama might have been responsible for the death of a woman and may even be a felon. possibly a Muslim I mean Mormon. Oh that Mitt.

    August 25, 2012 04:29 am at 4:29 am |
  5. Anonymous

    obama calls romney a felon and a liar. hejokes about the dog on top of the car. i don't hear anything from liberals. obama ate dogs in indonesia, got a sweetheart deal from convicted felon tony resko and won't release his college records and lied about incidents and people in his book dreams from my father. whensomeone points this out liberals scream racism. talk about hypocrisy.

    August 25, 2012 05:17 am at 5:17 am |
  6. Pawn

    Obviously hit a nerve.

    August 25, 2012 05:19 am at 5:19 am |
  7. Music

    Seems every single remaining audience member of CNN has been here to announce their indignance! Seriously, you are so undone by this Romney comment?!? Ridiculous people. It will be fun to read the CNNers reactions to the films, "2016" and "The Hope and The Change." Get ready to be really rattled. These are not jokes, these are facts. Perhaps it would be wise to plan for a few days off to recover, that is, if you have the courage to watch them at all.

    August 25, 2012 05:47 am at 5:47 am |
  8. Susan

    The country today is nothing but hate! I think new leadership would turn things around. We've gone back 40-50 years. Too bad we don't have a good leader to clean things up today. All the crimes and all the shameful things that are going on. I blame it on leadership or there lack of. He never speaks of cleaning this country up.....he's more worried about tax forms! Makes no sense.

    August 25, 2012 05:52 am at 5:52 am |
  9. BluClw


    I think you're holding the poll upside down. Silly lib.

    August 25, 2012 05:53 am at 5:53 am |
  10. Rob

    I want to see it Mitt, but unlike the other guy, I'm willing to bet you would produce it.

    August 25, 2012 05:54 am at 5:54 am |
  11. aaaaandre

    We should see every candidates birth certificate, since being a "Natural Born Citizen" (NOT Dual Citizen like Obama) is a requirement for the office of President. Tax returns are not mentioned.

    August 25, 2012 06:12 am at 6:12 am |
  12. aziz agadjari

    First, I wrote to Mr. Barack Obama President of America I have a theory about the presidential election in America The people of America that Mr. Obama likes it forward But I miss the America's gonna get a snake down a hole If you want to repeat the stupid people are no different than So the people of America know that the people of America like Obama and Nixon and Truman are not useful Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln and George Vashytn people like John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan

    August 25, 2012 06:23 am at 6:23 am |
  13. smoke ranch

    It took me a week to get a copy of my birth certificate. Even from the suicidal state of California. Only a week. But how many years did it take Obama to get one? But I don't care where he was born. I want to see how he paid for college. Now that would be interesting.

    August 25, 2012 06:38 am at 6:38 am |
  14. S J

    In 1991 Barack Obama's literary agency said Obama was "born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia and Hawaii." Maybe he lied then to sell books or he did not know about his own promotional literature.

    August 25, 2012 06:52 am at 6:52 am |
  15. Larrybudwiser

    It was a funny joke, but the big Romney heads are a tad creapy and Anderson Cooper is still a tool,

    August 25, 2012 07:00 am at 7:00 am |
  16. Burt Speedwack

    "My father did not want me serving, and he convinced me that yes, I was too important to go to Vietnam. I had a greater purpose in life. I wasn’t neglecting my nation, but rather preparing myself for a future of service." – Mitt Romney

    Then he spends 30 years dodging taxes and dismantling companies. This man can't be president. He just can't.

    August 25, 2012 07:07 am at 7:07 am |
  17. Mignon Mallon

    This was the counter punch for Obama making the "some people put other things on their roof" remark. Good for Romney. It let's the President know he will not get away with any of his 'swipes'.

    August 25, 2012 07:11 am at 7:11 am |
  18. Christopher di Spirito

    I thought Romney wanted to discuss issues? I thought Romney begged the Obama campaign to stop asking about his tax returns and off-shore tax accounts? Huh? I guess the polls showing Romney falling farther and father behind in the all important swing states means all Romney has left in the final days of the campaign is to weigh into the bizarre, murky waters of the birther movement and claim it was a joke. What a vile, pathetic SOB.

    August 25, 2012 07:14 am at 7:14 am |
  19. John Menson

    What debate? I really don't care about either of these candidates. I do care about the policies though. The ones we have now don't seem to be working so well for the Country, or maybe I am missing something.

    August 25, 2012 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
  20. zz

    the latest 'birth certificate' has been proven a photoshopped fraud, and Obama's grandmother says she witnessed his birth – in Kenya.

    August 25, 2012 07:23 am at 7:23 am |
  21. Juvenal

    Obama is the founder of birtherism. He lied about his origins to sell his pathetic book, which his publisher paid him a $250,000 advance on in 1990, but which he couldn't manage to finish until 1995. He got that advance without ever having published a word in his life up to that point, and his publisher and agency continued to advertise him as Kenyan-born until 2007.

    August 25, 2012 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  22. Spleen

    It's always amusing to watch liberals turn into cry babies when the jokes on them. I wonder what they would be crying if Romney DID finally... after 3.5 years.. release his tax returns.. in edited PDF fomat like Obama did with his Birth Certificate.. I think that would be hilarious.

    August 25, 2012 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
  23. Tex

    Being a natural born citizen is a requirement to hold the office of the President of the United States. Showing tax returns is not. How about we focus our attention and demand answers from both candidates what are their actual plans to get the government off the backs of the job creators? Or how about what their plans are to deal with public pension liabilities that are dragging down countless cities and states?

    August 25, 2012 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
  24. cecil nims

    Romney has repeatedly stated that he believes BO was born in the USA. So he makes a crack about his own birth certificate, and the leftie piranha rush into a feeding frenzy. Clearly, anyone who thinks that this joke is going to carry any weight into the November election is a dimwit.

    August 25, 2012 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  25. boondockdad

    To be a democrat, you are by definition a hypocrite. Baracks campaign can call Gov. Romney a felon, and accuse him of giving people cancer, but make a quip about 'the zero's blatantly fraudulent birth cert, and they feign outrage. How about "most transparent administration"? What's holder got to hide, barack? All about freedom and choice, right democrats? No compunction about killing an innocent baby, but lock down a persons freedom to choose a big-gulp. You democrats have become a tortured bunch of soul-less frauds, not content to wallow in your own misery; you try to drag everyone else into your own private he!!.

    August 25, 2012 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
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