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. Max

    Oh, it is more than a "fringe" of people who think Obama is not a US citizen. His birth certificate released in 2009 on the internet is a proven fake. We all know it, but some of you will never admit it.

    The lying MF'er is history come November.

    August 25, 2012 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  2. Brother Man

    Way to go, Mitt! Funny how the Obama team got their feathers ruffles over an honest joke. Romney was in his hometown and people know him there. Romney has stood up against the birthers for years now and he does honestly believe Obama was born in the U.S. All the lies the Obama Administration have been putting out there and a joke gets to them? I have been a Democrat from a coal mine town of PA all of my life. This Administration has tempted me to go Independent but I am staying the course... but voting against the Liar in Chief. This country cannot take anymore of this division. I pray that America can bounce back but I am afraid our Republic is lost. Has been for years!

    August 25, 2012 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  3. Tim

    Obama's own Literary Bio from 1999 till 2007 states. BORN in Kenya, raised in Hawaii and Indonesia. It was only changed when Barry realized Kenyans could not be POTUS. Barry Obama was the first Birther. HA HA. Was he lying then or now. Why does the press not care?

    August 25, 2012 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  4. Robert J

    Trickle down economics, the republican adopted economic model, is not a new idea, it was tried and failed in the 1800's. Only back then they called it "Horse and Sparrow Theory" – The idea was that if you fed a horse, (the wealthy), enough oats, enough would "trickle down" into the street in it's feces to feed the sparrows, (the poor). In other words, it's a horse crap theory. Also, this way of thinking traces back the the teachings of 12th century MUSLIM philosopher Ibn Khaldun, whom Reagan was known to have quoted again and again. That's right,"trickle down economics" is a MUSLIM idea; a fact that brings to light the hypocracy of narrow minded Republicans and their presumed ethnocentrism. "Don't vote for Obama, he's a Muslim" they say. Well, you're whole economic belief system is based on Muslim ideology from the dark ages and I say "HORSE CRAP" to you!

    August 25, 2012 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  5. Tim

    Media Works To Suppress Obama 'Born in Kenya' Bio Let not let the truth get in the was. huh
    While the internet buzzed with Breitbart News’ release of a booklet from President Obama’s literary agency circa 1991 describing him as being “born in Kenya,” the mainstream media still refuses to report the story, or plays defense for Obama.
    Never mind that the agency used the “born in Kenya” biography until 2007. Never mind that authors who have worked with the agency state that the agency asks that authors pen their own biographies. Never mind that Obama has routinely padded his biographical details to appeal to particular audiences.
    Nothing to see here.

    August 25, 2012 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  6. Mack

    @SurRy your left wing Reuters has already Verified Mitt Romneys birth it only took them a few days Mitt has his birth paperwork without the DRAMA

    August 25, 2012 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  7. TPP

    We have been asking to see Obummer's college records for over four years. What's the problem, dems? Why is he hiding them....... When Obummer produces those records, I'll be the first to agree that Mitt should show his last ten years of tax records. Fat chance Obummer will do that.

    August 25, 2012 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  8. Kevin

    bcm, and you expect people to accept Obama? Get a clue..

    August 25, 2012 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  9. Mack

    @bcm you mean like charging Mitt Romney as a felon or a murderer from the left wing kooks and yes we actually know where Mitt was born he has a social security card from the same state not like your Odrama

    August 25, 2012 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  10. Tim

    Barry Soetoro is a fraud, forger and usurping the office of President. Romney must have hit on the truth, the leftists are getting hysterical. Pelosi and the MSM knew Barry was a fraud from day one. You think CNN's rating stink now. Wait till they are exposed as frauds like Obama. drip drip drip

    August 25, 2012 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  11. silentnomorenana

    Dog on top of car...hmmm..or man that EATS the DOG? I have just changed my mind to GO with the DOG that LIVES(Mitt) than the one (obama) that has KILLED the dog and then ATE it. To LIVE or NOT to LIVE that is your question?

    August 25, 2012 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  12. Rm61

    Why can't he have a little humor. This administration has left the country so divided and angry and broke it is hard to smile about anything.

    August 25, 2012 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  13. David Smith

    Democrats get so defensive when they try to hide something. Obama's birth place would not be an issue if he would show us a real birth certificate. Instead we get cooks running interference for him trying to deflect his guilt while Obama’s teams spend millions so they don’t have to reveal any of Obama’s background.

    August 25, 2012 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  14. Dwain Kline

    Can ANY of you prove beyond doubt where Obama was born? I doubt it with his Chicago hoodlums handling things.

    August 25, 2012 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  15. Pro_sanity

    The msm networks hosting the debates will provide OBL2 and his advisors the debate questions in advance. OBL2 probably has them already. Just doing my part to raise awareness.

    August 25, 2012 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  16. Max Door

    It might not be such an issue, except that Obama's own propaganda piece when he was in college stated that he was born in Kenya. Leaves two options: either Obama was born in Kenya, or else he lied and said that he was born in Kenya for some expedient advantage at the time. Which is it?

    I would also like to see Obama's grades in college. Sure he gives a great speech, but can he solve a simple algebra problem?

    August 25, 2012 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  17. Pro_sanity

    The msm networks hosting the debates will provide Obama and his advisors the debate questions in advance. Obama probably has them already. Just doing my part to raise awareness.

    August 25, 2012 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  18. Pro_sanity

    Two thumbs up ... go Barrack!

    August 25, 2012 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  19. Rocky

    I see the LibTards are having another hissy-fit over this one. Its not as if Obama is being accused of murdering someone, is it? The libbies can't take it when the tables are turned on them. They spit, hiss, moan and groan.

    August 25, 2012 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  20. Anonymous

    Obama is a lying, Marxist. He is public enemy #1. His mission is to bear a giant chip on his shoulder against America while systematically dismantles her.

    The SEAL's took care one one threat to America; lets take care of the other one on November 6th.

    If we don't, may God help us all.

    August 25, 2012 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  21. Rm61

    I wouldn't try to make negative comments on romneys friends when you have Obama supported by the likes of the criminal Corrzine . Oh, I forgot the Obama administration found Corrzine innocent and will not be charged for the missing 1.2billion dollars of other peoples money.

    August 25, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  22. Mack

    @SirBo what happened to hope and change???? I don't see a lot of hope this year

    August 25, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  23. kate

    Isn't it also interesting that Obama has his college transcripts sealed. Why would the smartest man in the world want his college records sealed unless he isn't as smart as some of you like to think he is or perhaps he got in as a foreign student to gain a scholarship. You don't seal things unless you have something to hide. We have come to learn that when he goes off the teleprompter he says what he really means and not what is written for him.

    August 25, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  24. Mack

    @Joe glad to see you now support the war it only took 12 years btw how about that 3rd war we are in any idea how much that is costing and what is that exit strategy again?

    August 25, 2012 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  25. Rocky

    I see that all the left wing loonies are on this site. Well its CNN, what else can I expect?

    August 25, 2012 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
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