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. Robin

    Romney will stoop to anything !

    August 24, 2012 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  2. YoursIsNoDisgrace

    What a low life. He's not fit to be president. He makes Nixon look like presidential material.

    August 24, 2012 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  3. v_mag

    Get is straight, Mittler. It's TAX RETURNS! TAX RETURNS! We don't care about your birth certificate! Show us the TAX RETURNS!

    August 24, 2012 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  4. BlueDem1

    There goes Rmoney pandering to the birthers...the lowest of all scum in the Republican voter base.

    August 24, 2012 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  5. Swissmittens

    This is racist! No other way to put it.

    August 24, 2012 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  6. Jeff L.

    Classy, real classy, Mr. Romney.

    Hey, the real issue and the fundamental reason why Mr. Romney trails in the polls, is that Mr. Romney is the wrong candidate and the wrong guy to be President. And just look how he is bungling his campaign, with a never ending stream of stupid mistakes. Yes, the campaign has Lots of money, but gaffes, poor execution and bad choices. A CEO in these circumstances would be fired. For sure, not a good indicator as to how would run are country if elected.

    August 24, 2012 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |

    Reveal how much he has given to charity which will make all of us feel bad?
    That charity he's referring to is the Mormon church which is more of a business rather than a place of worship.

    August 24, 2012 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  8. Olive

    I just woke from a 10 yr coma, and Mitt Romney is still running for president???????

    August 24, 2012 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  9. Mike

    I do want to see your birth certificat Mr. Mitt!!! I don't think you were born In the USA. I do want to see a certificate that looks more like the one from Hawaii!!! if it doesn't look like that, i wont accept it.

    August 24, 2012 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  10. The GOP Voucher Plan will include a "Legalize Euthanasia" clause and a free gun to commit suicide

    The old people will need it when their health care dollars run out.

    August 24, 2012 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  11. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Has the GOP announced the really big role that birther Trump will be playing in the hate support group party next week?

    August 24, 2012 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  12. Mark

    Don't know who Romney really is or should I say what he really stands for. He has changed so many of his positions that at this time I just don't know. What I do know is that I've been watching him answer questions that he seems to be saying the same thing which is "I'll have to look into it further and discuss it with the appropriate people before I give you an answe." Guess what Mitt. I can't vote for some oen until I know what they intend to do so you won't be getting mine.

    August 24, 2012 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  13. Keepint It Real

    Michael Thompson "No major political candidate who embraces such a fringe theory, (or even uses it in this way), can actually be expected to win the presidency."


    So Obama should not win as he supported Biden's "chain's" comment? Or the, already proven false, claim by Reid that Romney failed to pay any taxes? Or that the fringe theory that the penalty for not having health insurance is a tax? wait, a fee, or a ? Seriously, you need to do your homework. Omaha is more fringe than you're giving him credit for.

    August 24, 2012 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  14. m0rtis

    Mr Romney...

    Can I see your birth certificate?

    (there. Done, and done.)

    August 24, 2012 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  15. bigbendjc

    Remember, don't ask him about Bain; don't ask him about abortion; don't ask him about the time as governor; don't ask him about his off shore accounts (But I loves my country!); don't ask him about his tax returns; don't ask him about his budget plans; don't ask him about his plans for medicare or social security; don't ask him about his Romneycare...........just trust him, right! Doesn't he sound like a snake oil salesman? (BTW, I'm an independent and I want more facts, not just the trust me word)

    August 24, 2012 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  16. Lynda/Minnesota

    Dominican mama 4 Obama

    They must be COMPLETELY certain that they will be able to buy their way into the White House this November.
    This statement is nothing but blatant arrogance and a howdy-do come-on-in to the racist Birthers from Romney himself.

    Seems that way, doesn't it? Never in my lifetime have I seen a candidate go so far out of his way to insult half the American voting block as this man continues to do daily. Generally candidates try to unite the country.

    August 24, 2012 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  17. Scott

    Of course Willard's father was born in Mexico. So I guess the GOP didn't care about birth certificates when it was one of them running.

    August 24, 2012 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  18. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    The campaign expects voters to think that it was in relation to telling the crowd that he and his wife were born there.
    No. The campaign does NOT expect voters to think that babe. The campaign is going to SAY that is what voters will think, but the campaign knows good and darn well that even their obtuse base heard their candidate not only validate the Birther Movement but acknowledge himself as one of them.

    August 24, 2012 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  19. Wake up People!

    @Sharon, I am also a Michigan native and I am highly offended by Robmey. But what offends me more is the level of hatred and racism in my state. Michigan needs to relocate to Texas.

    Also Willard, show us your taxes, no one cares about a birth certificate, yours could say born on Mars and people would still choose you, the white man, over President Obama.

    OBAMA 2012!

    August 24, 2012 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  20. THE truth

    Well played, Mitt. Glad to see you're not rolling over and playing dead like McCain did.

    August 24, 2012 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  21. DP

    Obama has nothing to hide? Why has he paid millions to keep his college transcipts secret? Why does he have a social security number from CT that belonged to someone else? Let's stick to the issue of who can lead this nation back to where it belongs...on top. The guy who wants big government or the guy who wants limited government. That is what the election really boils down to this year.

    August 24, 2012 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  22. Robin

    Romney's motto: " Live in America...invest in the Cayman Islands." A true Patriot!! Vote OBAMA 2012 !

    August 24, 2012 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  23. Sirned

    Mitt, as a voter I want to see your tax returns because I need to know if my loss of wealth is related to your wealth gain. Until I see them I will assume you are hiding something that hurts me personally....Pony up those tax returns

    August 24, 2012 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  24. Demwhisperer

    Mitt Romney has paid more in taxes that obama has ever made and has been successful beyond any liberal imagination.

    August 24, 2012 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  25. Mike

    Mitt may not have been asked to produce his birth certificate, but he has been asked repeatedly to produce his tax returns, which he and his wife continue to refuse.

    August 24, 2012 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
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