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. indyreader

    Not worried about yer birth cert, Rmoney – no one as white as you could have been born anywhere but the US. Now, about those tax returns,...

    August 24, 2012 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  2. Thomas Guerra

    If you can't talk about Bain, you can't talk about your governorship, you can't talk about your tax returns and you don't wan to talk about forcing women to give birth to their rapists' offspring, what's left... HEY I WAS DEFINITELY BORN HERE! Yes, Mitt, you were born here, and just like us, you weren't born yesterday. Show us the returns and explain how taking an extra $250,000 per year out of middle-class consumers' pockets and giving it to the wealthiest taxpayers will help the economy... the COUNTRY's economy, not you and your friends very private economies abd very private treasuries... you know, the economy that your party has been eagerly sabotaging just to get the nations presidential choice taken out. Please show us that you and the Republican party respect our wishes by showing us your financial history... because the vast majority of the electorate DO WANT TO SEE YOUR TAX RETURNS.

    August 24, 2012 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  3. G. Abraham

    Romney will show his birthe certificate, but not tax returns! Lots of ammunition in there!!

    August 24, 2012 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  4. simp

    kevin madden romney's advisor can say he was referring to his own birth certificate if he wants, but romney is trying to get the conversation off him and his VP pick to start talking that same ole lie that President Obama was not born here, like Al Sharpton says, "nice try, but we gotcha"

    August 24, 2012 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  5. ncsteve

    Got to be able to give as good as you get! This was certainly a lot more subtle than Biden's "put ya'll back in chains" snark. As a Southerner, I am just as offended with Biden's use of "ya'll". He doesn't have the bones to use that word. As anyone from Delaware can tell you, they don't use that word unless they're on the stump pandering to the base.

    August 24, 2012 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  6. serdich

    No one asked for Obama tax returns..we know that he is honest about that Romney ?

    August 24, 2012 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  7. sonny chapman

    Yep, that Obama is really a Divider. Not a Uniter like Romney & George W. before him.

    August 24, 2012 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  8. Mr. Moderate

    Of course the irony here is that while the right continually whines about how little we know about Obama, he has provided the short form birth certificate which is legally acceptable everywhere, his long form birth certificate and eight years of tax returns. None which has come from Mitt. So why is Obama continually held to a different standard. Why? Hmmm....oh yeah THAT.

    August 24, 2012 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  9. Niyi

    Of course, everyone knows where you were born, Mitt Romney. No one will ask you for your birth certificate and there is no need presenting it. However, we want to know how much you pay as taxes. We ask for your tax returns. Present it

    August 24, 2012 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  10. sharon

    As a resident of Michigan, I find Mitt's claim of being a 'native son' offensive. He left this state at 18 for college and except to visit family and campaign, turned his back on the state. Now he wants our votes while his party's platform denies women the ability to make a responsible choice.
    As to comments about where Obama was raised – a child does not have the option of whether they go with the parent(s) or not. His grandparents (the ones from Kansas) moved to Hawaii to assist his mother with the two children and Obama was in school there.

    August 24, 2012 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  11. tony in phoenix

    Romney has just stepped up to the front of the Republican Wacko Parade. Right along side him are Todd Akin, Dr. Wilke and Judge Head. Will the Republican National Convention open up with the song "Send in the Clowns"?

    August 24, 2012 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  12. The GOP Voucher Plan will include a "Legalize Euthanasia" clause and a free gun to commit suicide

    The old people will need it when they run out of money for health care.

    August 24, 2012 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  13. Patriot Awesome

    I want to see his birth certificate. What I would actually really love to see is a birther produce a fake Hawaiian birth certificate, and get a U.S. passport with it if it's so easy to do.

    August 24, 2012 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  14. gar

    serdich –

    Excellent comment! Romney is nothing more than an upper class thug.

    August 24, 2012 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  15. bruce

    This also makes Romney out to either be a liar or to have lived a complete life of privilege. Most of us have had to show our birth certificate to get our first driver's license, our passport, our Social Security card, and any number of other items for which we had to prove when and where we were born. So, if as he states, he has never been asked to show his BC, then how did he get these items unless he lived a complete life of privilege?

    August 24, 2012 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  16. SC

    He is not Presidential Material by a long shot. Show your tax returns.

    August 24, 2012 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  17. Jim

    He was born here, he just dosen't pay taxes here.

    August 24, 2012 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  18. Boytjie


    Obama became president in 2008 and produced his long form birth certificate in 2011, 3 years later, I guess Romney can follow Obama's footsteps and if elected can then release his tax returns 3 years into his presidency.
    Go back and you will find that Obama's birth certificate was first released June 13, 2008.

    August 24, 2012 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  19. Expat American

    Romney could have just as easily said.

    “No one asks the Pope if he is Catholic. Now let me outline how I intend to step on the necks of all the poor people in the all-White audience standing behind me…”

    August 24, 2012 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  20. Scott from Eugene Oregon

    Wow!! I'm guessing that WIllard is still miffed about the latest Wall Street Journal / NBC national poll, which showed that among African American voters, he is polling at ZERO percent. That's right, zilch, nada, nothing. Even with the margin of error, he is, at best, only at two and a half percent. Even John McCain got around four to five percent. This incident tells you all you need to know about Romney – no talent, no class, no victory in November. So he can pack his bags now for Bermuda, or the Caymans, or Switzerland, or Ireland, or Luxemborg, or wherever else you and your money will be the happiest!! Bye Bye.

    August 24, 2012 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  21. bill

    Notice that the Republicans are all millioonares. are you?

    August 24, 2012 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  22. badcyclist

    So that's what passes as a Republican sense of humor these days....

    August 24, 2012 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  23. Hahahahahahahaha

    I’d much rather have a president that was formerly a foreigner (which Obama is NOT) and GLAD to be a current citizen than a president that was always a citizen but likes to pretend he’s a foreigner (with his money). Hahahahahahaha

    August 24, 2012 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  24. Grace Madison

    It took the sitting president 3 years to release his long form, so you “taxers” should lean from him and wait for at least the same length to see someone’ extra tax returns

    August 24, 2012 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  25. ShawnDH

    Buh-Bye Romney.

    That he is still desperately courting the dumbest and most deranged people in the Republican base is a sure sign of a November loser. This campaign is over.

    August 24, 2012 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
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