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. el_loco_jp

    The only people upset by Mitt's comments are disheartened Dems who know that their man is a fraud and will use any tactic, especially character assignation, to stop disclosure of the truth about Obama's phony birth certificate not to mention his invalid SS card and Selective Service registration.

    August 25, 2012 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  2. jcw

    Watch the DVD obamas real father it has answered his birth certificate for me. Google obamas real father for more info, and please see this before you vote! If true it is the biggest political lie of my life of 58 years, incredible just incredible.

    August 25, 2012 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  3. Clenith Ewers

    Surely it's compulsory for a presidential candidate to show his birth certificate, isn't it? If not, why not?!! What are the vetting requirements? We the People need to know? Electing a president is serious business! Failure to thoroughly vet all candidates is what got us into the mess we're in now! Somebody dropped the ball! Obama should've never even been permitted to run for president until he showed proof positive that he's a NATURAL BORN CITIZEN! This must NEVER happen again!

    August 25, 2012 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  4. fair1day

    This is a slanted article. Obama tries to chew up Romney, with help from this declining cnn. Can't you guys do anything right?

    August 25, 2012 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  5. Mack

    Bahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha very funny the left wing loons just take take a joke

    August 25, 2012 10:16 am at 10:16 am |

    The more Mitt makes edgy comments, the more I like 'em. The McCain campaign was a wimpy rino disaster that wouldn't go after Obama for anything. If Mitt can show he's not afraid to throw a punch, I'll vote for him.

    August 25, 2012 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  7. laughnmatter

    The birth certificate is fake. Do the research.

    August 25, 2012 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  8. Balls Mahoney

    Nothing said in this campaign matters. Show America the jobs. Show America the jobs. Where are the jobs were promised from giving billions to the banks and unions? Where are the jobs? Hope is hiring folks.

    August 25, 2012 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  9. Seeker

    Oh come on you Libitards. The party hasn't even started. Wait until the debates and lets see your messiah talk his way out of the mess he has gotten this country into. No teleprompters and no scripts to read from. I cannot wait!!

    August 25, 2012 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  10. Corey

    I like how the media is feigning outrage over Romney's comments. Obama made the same exact joke and nobody cared. It just shows how thin skinned Obama and the media are....... That brings us to a larger point. Obamas behavior on the campaign trail is not that if a cool calm zen master that feels confident about his chances. He is acting someone who is scared, desperate and in full on panic mode. Romney on the other hand is a calm cool zen master feeling very confident and having some fun on the campaign trail. The behavior of the two candidates tells you the state of the race better than any poll. Obamas behavior is very telling about what his internal polling is suggesting: his chance at winning a second term is slim and none.

    August 25, 2012 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  11. Jeff

    I have an idea. All you Left wingers complain about Romney being a woman hater, murderer, birther, non-tax paying elite, while all you right wingers complain about college transcripts, birth certificates, failed stimulus, and golf outings. Then, while all of you are preoccupied with all the complete irrelevant nonsense the media has prepared for you, we can watch the country continue to divide and fall apart. If any of you commenting are actually real people and not sitting in some campaign office, you need to quit being a mindless sheep and focus on things that actually matter...

    August 25, 2012 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  12. iambicpentamaster

    BREAKING BAD NEWS FOR GOP . . . . . . .

    From the Christian Science Monitor: Joe Biden scraps plan to crash GOP party

    August 25, 2012 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  13. durtrider

    Nobody needs to ask Romney for his because he never demonstrated any anti-American traits. We do not have to ask ourselves just where exactly does Mitt Romney's allegiance lay.

    August 25, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  14. Markus Taylor

    Hussein is finishe din Nov. Sorry libtards its over

    August 25, 2012 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  15. Rocky

    How about that Movie 2016? I hear it is doing a good job of re-educating left wingers. I highly recommend it.

    August 25, 2012 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  16. al gore

    By the way, the CNN "journalists" who wrote this story are the real criminals. The Mocha Messiah's fake BC released in 2008 by the White House has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt to be fake. Again, liberlas "journalists' ignoring facts when they arent in lock step with the party line.

    August 25, 2012 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  17. Gas Passer

    That was great the Mitt joke about "his" birth certificate that made the commies go ballistic! Now it would be really funny if Mitt took a jab at Obunga's Social Security Number(S) and state that Obunga couldn't legally get a job at the White House cleaning all of the toilets because the Social Security Number that Obunga is currently using didn't pass E-Verify. That would make the commies howling MAD! Ha ha ha!!!!

    August 25, 2012 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  18. HarryJoseph

    Obama's literary agent published a pamphlet in 1991 showing Obama's picture and a write-up that included he was born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia and Hawaii. He never had that information corrected. Michele Obama is on YouTube saying that she and Barack visited Africa and his home country in Kenya. She did correct herself. Home country means the country where you were born. Any references to Obama's birth certificate are legitimate and the birther deniers get indignant.

    August 25, 2012 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  19. Karl

    Settle down comrades, it's not like Romney accused someone of contributing to someons death or calling someone a felon. Take it as well as you give it.

    August 25, 2012 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  20. ar

    No one would have asked for Obama's birth certificate if his views weren't so patently un-American. It's obvious his enculturation has been primarily (and formatively) foreign. One of the reasons for the "natural born" requirement is that the president be American in the deepest sense – which Obama is not (regardless of where he was born).

    August 25, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  21. CharlestownJack

    If I had been born to a hippie mom, raised partly in Indonesia, had close relatives on my father's side in Kenya, had a law enforcement official providing substantial proof that my birth certificate was phony, saw evidence that Barry Soetoro, Muslin religion, Indonesian nationality claimed a Fulbright scholarship as a "foreigner" and put out a book or two with hints that I might be lying about all sorts of things, I would expect people to be skeptical, but then I haven't ever experienced a press that wanted to annoint me to anything and I must have at least an ounce of integrity.

    August 25, 2012 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  22. ortagasax

    LoL it's funny to be honest, it means Romney is willing to play ball, so bring in those Tax return questions, bring in those bain questions, bring in the 0% tax that romney payed in tax returns and please oh please bring in his Governorship in Mass where they don't want him. Like Mitt Romney said, "what's good for the goose is good for the gander" So Bring it On!!!

    August 25, 2012 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  23. Vivian Bennett

    What an INSULT to our dear leader president!! They are acting like Romney said the prez isn't a legit prez... LOL

    Hilarious. This was an innocent joke, and us ROMNEY VOTERS loved it! Simply loved it!

    August 25, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  24. Vivian Bennett

    In case you didn't know Bug13t. I am a BIRTHER and proud of it.

    August 25, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  25. Patsan

    Obama has made jokes about his birth certifcate. They have a "copy" of it on mugs sold for fundraising for Obama.. Then they try to make a serious issue out of Romney joking about it??? THEY ARE RIDICULOUS!!!!! Just another way of trying to distract people from the failures of this administration.

    August 25, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
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