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. griffbos

    No Mitt we don't need your birth cert. we are waiting for your tax returns to see what ypou might be hiding from us

    August 24, 2012 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  2. Ray

    We know one thing for sure from this guy the pro draft and draft dodger is not an American

    August 24, 2012 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |

    Just look at the sea of diversity standing behind him. Ha!!!

    August 24, 2012 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  4. RonDonaghe

    It simply doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that Romney quip about nobody asking about his own birth certificate was an attempt to raise questions about Obama in an offhand way, and it doesn't matter that he was smiling when he said it. It's no big deal, because it's a moot point, but still Romney didn't need to say it. The campaign expects voters to think that it was in relation to telling the crowd that he and his wife were born there.

    August 24, 2012 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  5. Wes B.

    People asked for Obama's birth certificate, so he showed it. They then asked for the long-form certificate...and once Hawaii released it to him, he showed that as well.

    Now, Mitt...people have asked for your tax records. ...waiting....waiting....waiting....

    August 24, 2012 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  6. ll

    Romney clearly values racism over the needs of seniors, women, students, the middle class & the poor.

    GOP, you have devolved into dirt.

    August 24, 2012 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  7. Dennis

    Yea, right......he said it to appeal to the fringe in his party who might not vote or pencil in someone else (in large numbers). He is flip-flopper, who has sold out to get elected.........

    August 24, 2012 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  8. cleansweep

    We had better watch Ryan, I think he is planning on taking Romney on a deer hunting trip.after the election

    August 24, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  9. sayer

    Bringing this up while he refuses to show 12 years of tax returns like modern presidential candidates? Mitt is not a good person. He is a tax evading, draft dodging, flip flopping, lying, arrogant bully.

    August 24, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  10. Woman In California

    No one has ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place that we were born and raised."

    Thank you for confirming what most of us already knew, and that is, your party is a racist party full of hate and anger for any minority whose worked hard, lived a clean life and done better than they have (the Obama's) prime example.

    It is my hope, both you and Ann stay healthy, very healthy until November 6, 2012 so you can withstand the BEATING the American people will hand you, and that, is my wish.
    Obama 2012

    August 24, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  11. C R

    Ugh. What a sleaze. Mr Romney is as much of a snide bully now as he was in school, apparently. Is this really the standard of intelligent discourse we want to encourage?

    August 24, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  12. Carol

    Romney is offense on so many levels. Why anyone believes in him and wants to vote for him is beyond me. Tired of hearing about him.

    August 24, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  13. AmericanWaxwing

    EXCITED to vote for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. It will be a breath of fresh air for America to have two smart, successful, job-friendly leaders in Washington. Time to get America back to work!

    August 24, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    how about Obama's sealed records?

    August 24, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  15. floridabeachdogs

    I think what folks are missing is the 2 Catholic nuns sitting in the crowd, maybe the Catholic church is waking up to the dems stomping on religious freedom, that it never was an attack on woman, the government was telling a Catholic university they had to provide birth control in their insurance coverage, it would be like telling a Muslin Mosque or Jewish Synagogue they had to serve pork in their cafeterias. Also maybe the Catholics are waking up to the fact that Obama supports the most horrid practice of infanticide !!! I was a registered Democrat for over 20 years, I have not recognized the Dems since Pelosi took over congress –now a proud registered Independent!!!!

    August 24, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  16. TooClose2DC

    To be true, Obama was not raised in America...he was raised in Indonesia.

    For those calling for tax returns, it has never been a requirement of any candidate before. What are the returns going to tell you? That he makes less than Democratic Senators Harry Reid and Mark Warner. Reveal how much he has given to charity which will make all of us feel bad? Guess what, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Donald Trump, and a host of others paid less than you. The Obama's had a lower tax rate than their secretary too. Hell, my tax rate is higher than the Obamas' and I make a lot less. By the way did anyone pay attention to the Senate Leader, Democratic Harry Reid of Nevada say about President Obama "Obama speaks "with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one". Talk about racist!

    So you Democrats are not holier than thou nor smarter than your brother Republicans. None of you are smart nor portraying intellect by posting condescending remarks about the other.

    A True Independent

    August 24, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  17. Reality

    If it weren't for the birther issue, he would have had no reason to make the comment. Does he honestly think that he can stand and tell a bald-faced lie and not have anyone question it because he is rich? And he thinks it was right to push for the release of President Obama's birth certificate, but that it is completely wrong for others to push for the release of his tax returns to prove he isn't hiding anything.

    August 24, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  18. M in AZ

    This man will never ever get my vote. So disgusting.

    August 24, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  19. notspot

    Why to go for the lowest common denominator, Mitt! You and the GOP deserve each other.

    August 24, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  20. Kenny K

    He has not even release tax returns people have been asking to release, now he is talking about birth certificate. Well, we want you to release both now. We want to see them: tax returns and birth certificate.

    August 24, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  21. Sarah

    I have asked to see Mitt's birth certificate. He is the son of an illegal alien. Read his father's biography and tell me how the father was a US citizen. Mitt's great grandfather renounced his cittizenship and fled, as a felon, to Mexico. Mitt's father was born in Mexico and was a Mexican citizen. He illegally immigrated to the US. Mitt is, at best, an anchor baby....and may be illegal himself.

    August 24, 2012 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  22. ct

    That is because the left doesn't propagate crazy lies and repeat them until the masses believe!

    August 24, 2012 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  23. Hussein

    It took Obama 3 years into the presidensy to release his long form, so you "taxers" should wait for at least the same length to see the extra tax returns

    August 24, 2012 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  24. Sniffit

    "He was only referencing that Michigan, where he is campaigning today, is the state where he himself was born and raised." "

    Hahahaha...hold on...I'm not believing a word of that. Gimme a second to get out my tinfoil hat and drool bib and pour myself a sippy cup full of methanol-laced moonshine and I'm sure it'll all seem much more believable.

    August 24, 2012 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  25. Denise

    He has just lost the election!

    August 24, 2012 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
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