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. Bob Lewis

    Yeah, Mitt, we do know where you were born. We also know where your ancestors were born as they ran to Mexico to escape the law. We are asking for your tax (dodging) returns though, to see what you're so terrified of showing.

    August 24, 2012 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  2. 99prcntr

    Please, grow up the birther thing is over,dead ,not even worth speaking about the last 10 years of your tax returns...where are the people are now that you closed the companies they worked for, and where is their pension money that you guaranteed? I think you are a throwback to the good old times when people had to take what the bosses wanted and keep there mouths shut or out , the choices you make sometimes come back an bite you in the ....speaking of choices when was the last time a man became pregnant...its not their body..

    August 24, 2012 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  3. george of the jungle

    romney is a real weasel and every once in awhile we see a glimps of the rich phoney that would beat up a kid and cut his hair. He has a mean streak and then plays stupid. We all have your number . We have all asked for your taxes though.

    August 24, 2012 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  4. Laura

    Just another stupid comment by Rmoney. We have asked to see your tax returns. Why aren't you forthcoming with those?

    August 24, 2012 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  5. ILikeIkev2

    Uh ... so Gov Romney has poor sense of humor and the crowd has even worse sense of humor?

    August 24, 2012 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  6. SPQR

    Show me the moneyyyyyy.

    August 24, 2012 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  7. Angry Irish Liberal

    No Mr R-Money, we asked to see your Tax returns like your father gave up when he ran and you refused. We've seen the President's birth certificate.

    August 24, 2012 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  8. LBAM

    BIte me Robmey and Boy Ryan, now its time to see your taxes please.

    August 24, 2012 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  9. Roxx

    Hey Mitt... Nobody asked you cause nobody cares!!!!

    August 24, 2012 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  10. Ex Republican

    Romney well show your taxes for last 10 years.. I think he need to apologize to Obama we dont find it funny to play with someone birth place.

    August 24, 2012 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  11. rockysfan

    That's B S Romney, I've demanded you show yours! Joke?! Poorest taste possible and truly lets the world know just what an out of touch individual you really are. Were you born here? Prove it! Seems to me your family was living in a poligamist community when daddy came to the US – do YOU know who your Mama is? Prove it!

    August 24, 2012 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  12. Johnathan

    I can't wait for the debates. These repugnicans will be chewed up and spit out, exposed for all to see.

    August 24, 2012 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  13. Mark

    Yes we know you were born in US but you put your money in Swissland, Burmuda, and in Caymon Islands. Why not you run for president in these countries?

    August 24, 2012 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  14. Johnnie

    Then, release your 10 years of Tax Return just like your patriotic father did. You cannot be a genuine citizen and be deceitful about your taxes and campaign to be our president. Something is wrong about your proclamation as being born in the USA and not be faithful to the land of your birth. I now challenge you to release your 10 year filing of Tax return if you are what you say you are, Mr. Romney?

    August 24, 2012 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  15. Just a thought

    So quick to make a remark about obamas birth certificate but what about those tax returns. And the fact that Donald trump is backing him is even more validation that Romney is completely out of touch with middle class America

    August 24, 2012 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  16. John

    Obama has always been a questionable character. Even students who would have been his peers and in the same graduating class in Columbia has never heard of him. He allegedly "graduated" with 700 other students but none of those 700 students ever knew who he was/is. Did he not have any classmate? This is a big question. No wonder, he has put a court order to seal his records from Columbia as well as other schools he has attended.

    August 24, 2012 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  17. Sandra Hinojosa

    This is just despicable and disturbing and disgusting! Mitt the reason no one has ever asked to see your birth certificate is because you are white. Just ask the millions of us who were born in this country and have been asked repeatedly...Where are you from? It is wrong that I as a third generation American can be standing next to my friend who is British, has never bothered to become an American citizen and I am the one who is asked this question because I am Mexican-American. It is shameful beyond belief that our President must endure this constantly.

    August 24, 2012 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  18. Everythingdies

    How about his taxes? What is he hiding?

    August 24, 2012 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  19. Ivy

    Mitt, nobody asks because the people asking those stupid questions about Obama are your supporters

    August 24, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  20. Heisenberg

    Ok, but can we see your tax returns, specifically 1999-2002. Thanks a bunch.


    August 24, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  21. Mikey

    Nice. A wink and nod to the unhinged base of the GOP.

    To describe Romney's style, the word that comes to mind is "awkward". I can't imagine this guy running around the world saying stupid things because he can't think of an appropriate thing to say and isn't either comfortable in his own skin or intelligent enough to keep is trap shut. The nervous laugh he has after saying something stupid like "where did these cookies come from, 7-11?" is absolutely cringe inducing. He is simply not Presidential material.

    August 24, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  22. normajean @ verizon ,com

    The master of the "CHEAP SHOT".....Frankly I don't think you were born....I think you were ":hatched"!!! Anyone with half a brain would have gotten off this "birther' kick by realizing that there is no way that in a country with the power of the CIA...FBI and any number of federal organizations NOONE, ....NOone would legally be president if they weren't qualified!!! Get a life Romney,,,,,... that or grow up!!!!!,,,From what we have read....I don't think Massachusetts should be particularly proud of his administration there, anyway!!He was less than stellar!!!!!

    August 24, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  23. Delilah

    Grow up Willard – what a jerk – why would he even make a stupid joke like that – so immature. Willard your Daddy was born in Mexico so perhaps YOU are not a natural born citizen. We want to see your birth certificate – the long form! And, we HAVE ASKED for your tax returns – where are they? What are you hiding??

    August 24, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  24. ib1sage

    Again, he shows his lack of quality to be a leader. Was Romney not the one to say that the candidates should deal with issues and not get personal?
    Vote for Romney as president of the Cayman Islands......he hides his money there so he may as well stay there.

    August 24, 2012 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  25. Listening

    A little coy swipe at the "put yall back in chains" it looks like. Both sides are ridiculous.

    August 24, 2012 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
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