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. bumperpress

    Let's get this straight, only a "natural born" citizen can be president of the U.S. Obama (aka Barry Soetero) was born in Kenya. The mainstream lying media never gets their facts straight because they are controlled and follow the same script. They are nothing more than a fascist propaganda arm of the White House. The truth cannot be denied nor will stay hidden forever.

    August 25, 2012 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  2. dave

    lol at the fake about be mad at 16 trillion in debt. 9% unemployment.. media love obama so much they put out this bias crap. Nov. 6 the citizens stand up and Obama is out.

    August 25, 2012 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  3. danfromsquirrelhill

    Roger Ebert claims that “2016: Obama’s America,” the country’s #1 movie, is not playing in any Chicago theaters

    August 25, 2012 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  4. Balladeer

    The Obama propaganda machine is trying desperatey to be relevant. It ain't workin'!

    August 25, 2012 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  5. Cat

    I am appalled at the anti-Romney remarks I am hearing here, but not surprised. Having been brought up and surrounded by liberal think I "got out" when the ideas and "facts" I was being pushed to follow were just too too bizarre for belief. But there is a new generation brought up and believing this bizarre socialist/communistic crap, as being the correct way for the country to go. Wake up, you people, look at what has happened in other countries who became what you want the USA to become, and while you are at it find out about what your country is really all about. Equal opportunity does not imply everything equal for everyone, but instead a country that provides the protection under law for each individual to pursue their own happiness, it is not for the government to give you happiness. What OB is doing and wants Government to oversee, is the stealing from those pursuing their life and giving it to those he has convinced can have it handed to them. The only one coming out on top then are those in control managing it all. USA is a country of individuals, let's keep it that way.

    August 25, 2012 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  6. mikeyboy

    Sorry, but what Obama produced as a "Record of live birth" would not be enough to register a child for most Little League baseball associations.

    Why would someone spend millions to hide their records?

    Release your tax returns indeed. Release your college transcripts!

    August 25, 2012 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  7. Katepatate

    Typical liberals with no sense of humor. Perhaps they, themselves beliieve there is an essence of truth behind Romney's quote. There must be some doubt in their minds or this joke would not have got them so wee-weed up.

    August 25, 2012 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  8. Katepatate

    Our next president is a proud American. God bless Mitt Romney.

    August 25, 2012 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  9. Karla

    So it is ok for Obama to make jokes about it and that is not a problem but when Romney makes a joke about it suddenly it raises some sort of conspiracy theory? If that in fact is the case then all I can say is the Dems are in bigger trouble then they think as that is just foolishness................

    August 25, 2012 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  10. Don Johnson

    It\'s amazing how Obama supporters dont have a clue as to what's going on in the world. They are the most idiotic bunch of brain-dead commies this country has ever seen. They tune in to crap like CNN and their brains dissolve.

    Bless their little hearts.

    August 25, 2012 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  11. Raule

    Oh well. You might as well get used to him. He IS going to be the President for the next 8 years.

    August 25, 2012 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  12. GeoWashington

    Obama has declared war on America. He has divided us. He has hate mongered. He has pitted race against race. He has diminished America at home and abroad. We still know nothing about Obama. We do know he was indoctrinated by radicals and marxists for 35 years and that his policies have diminished the country in just four years. It's not Romney's background that concern me but Obama's that scare me. I am afraid for the country for what he would do too us in four more years. The real question is what fundamental vision of America does Obama have. In just four years, he has exploded the national debt. He's done nothing about joblessness. He has reduced the Middle Class from 61% to 51% of the population. Our wages are down 10% since Obama, and the quality of our lives for all Americans is worse. Our children will never achieve the same quality of success that their parents had. We have gutted the military. We have bowed to our enemies and spite in the face of our allies. We have surrounded Israel with the Muslim Brotherhood and created a setting for a Middle East war unlike any in the past. But, the real question is about Obama–why does he seem to hate America? Why does he do everything he can to diminish the greatness of America? He has been a disaster for our country no matter what you think of the man.

    August 25, 2012 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  13. myron

    LOL... Romney's joke shows that the B.O.zo Demwits cannot take a joke. This is brilliant on Romney's part because it neutralizes the issue and makes the B.O.zo's look touchy and extreme. Funny thing is that over a third of Americans really don't know B.O.zo's nationality. After November, no one will care.

    August 25, 2012 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  14. The Stew

    LOL! Have you Obananites anything better to do that question Mit"s tax return? Use your head, if he hqs done anyting wrong, the IRS would have been all over it.. or, don't you think your Leader would have made sure it was looked into? You obviously trust BHO blindly but why not on this issue? Where's barry's college transcripts? Why would they be hidden and he spends so much to hide them?..oops, my bad, you can't look in that direction. Barry can't run on his record or accomplishments so it's Mitt's tax returns and more people out of work.. Bush's fault, I know

    August 25, 2012 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  15. Juvenal

    Obama is the original birther and founder of birtherism. This is what happens when you pretend to be born in Kenya in order to sell your pathetic book, which Obama was paid a $250,000 advance for, without ever publishing a word in his life up to that point.

    Barry's publisher continued to advertise him as Kenyan-born until 2007.

    August 25, 2012 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  16. Joe Blow

    "They're gonna put y'all back in chains!"

    Yikes, talk about deliberately obtuse. The American people are not so thoroughly stupid that they do not comprehend ideas like "subtext" and "context."

    August 25, 2012 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  17. Mass Independent

    I know this bugs Obama supporters. I'm surprised the word racist doesn't appear with those above. Hypocritical? How about Obama's "don't put me on the roof." Obama also refused to release his birth certificate much like Romney has not been willing to release tax returns (which by the way he is not required to do.) But Obama and supporters think this is some type of coverup, just like the birther idiots do. Obama is very thin skinned but he (or Biden or the DNC can say what they wish.) This normal is referred to as "unfair" by the same group. Or the R bomb, (racist.) People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones? Unless you are a politico, of course.

    August 25, 2012 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  18. Walter

    Obama is our first foreign born socialist president.

    August 25, 2012 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  19. TransitDave

    Hey, If Obama can joke about the birth certificate, so can Romney......But Barry-O never brings up his college transcripts, which a certain someone told me will prove Obama attended Occidental College as a foreign student on a scholarship, obviously fraudulently obtained. My source is highly placed in the democratic party, but like Harry Reid I don't have to name names!

    See how easy it is to throw around unproven (but easily disproved) charges? So lets have Obama's College transcripts, and then Romney will show the tax returns, and we'll see who has something to be embarrassed about

    August 25, 2012 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  20. NorthFla Patriot

    Reading the comments of these liberals/progressives/socialists – or whatever they're calling themselves this year – will suck the intelligence right out of you.

    August 25, 2012 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  21. bigbubbadude

    The press gets the sentiment of the right wrong on this stupid issue. The issue for me is not where Obama was born. The issue is that he is a liar. The reaction of the left is laughable.The party of Joe Biden should not be throwing stones. None of this matters when the economy is in the toilet.

    August 25, 2012 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  22. ZacJ

    It was a joke about how he was in his home town. That's all. Was is clever or really funny? No. But he's Mitt Romney. I don't think anyone should expect him to be that funny. Anyone who assumes this is some form of trying to appeal to birthers or hint at this as being a relevant issue doesn't understand context. He was joking about being in his home town, that's all. He was just making a goofy comment about how people know the names of the hospitals where he and his wife were born to play to a local crowd. That's all. Anyone taking offense is either disingenuous and knows this was harmless or only heard the fact that Romney said "birth certificate" and took offense before actually reading the whole story or knowing where he stands on the birther issue.

    August 25, 2012 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  23. Anita Job

    The crowd at the rally appaulded and had a good laugh at Romney's comment. The in the PREEZY'S pocket main stream media were offended and their feelings were hurt...........and the campaign continues.

    August 25, 2012 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  24. Edward R Boothe

    How many hundred trillion dollars do you have in your bank account? The country of Zimbabwe is now printing $100,000,000,000,000 notes because of their lack of fiscal discipline, which led to bankruptcy, which in turn led to hyperinflation, and when this happened in Germany, people needed a wheel-barrow to carry enough Reich Marks to buy a loaf of bread.

    Thanks to Barrack Hussein Obama's refusal to agree to any reductions in his insane spending spree, we are on the same path as Zimbabwe and Germany. He is in the process of bankrupting this country, either intentionally, or because he just doesn’t care what happens to America. Maybe he wants it to go bankrupt so it can become a part of the World Communist Order.

    If he is reelected for four more years he will succeed, and any money you have in the bank, in your 401K, stock market, CD’s, or bonds will be worthless.

    At this point people will be killing in the street for food and water, and you can kiss your beloved United States of America good bye. Do you want your children and grandchildren facing this kind of terror? It will be your choice in less than three months.

    Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have a plan to get spending under control, make us energy independent, and save this great nation fiscally and morally. Please give them a chance to do it. Obama has had his chance and he failed. There was an abundance of change, but now no hope unless we remove this individual from the office of the presidency. If he is reelected we will be bankrupt before 2016 and you will be living under the boot of a Socialist/Communist dictator. Please go to this link below and see how long you can watch your country fall without getting nervous:

    August 25, 2012 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  25. Rebuzz

    Wow! How "thin-skinned" can you get? You libs are a hoot! It was a joke! Get over yourselves . . .
    So this is "off message?" - And Barry has been "on message"? Romney's tax returns are "on message?" Romney's dog carrier" (from how many years ago) is "on message?" It's the libs and demos who are desperate! Over 8% unemployment, almost 16 trillion in debt (and please, don't say the "B" word –Barry has added almost 5 trillion on his own. And hey let's not forget that Barry has gutted $718 Mill fro Medicare - who's tossing grandma over the cliff for real?
    Obama is a disaster - I don't care where he was born - he's the joke all by himself. Incompetent and a failure.

    August 25, 2012 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
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