September 8th, 2012
09:52 PM ET
10 years ago

Obama to young Hawaiian: 'You have a birth certificate?'

(CNN) - What does President Barack Obama ask when he meets another native of Hawaii?

About their birth certificate.

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While campaigning in Florida on Saturday, the president stopped in at Gator Dockside, a Florida sports bar that boasts 19 big-screen televisions and 15 chicken-wing sauces. After grabbing a beer, shaking hands, and leading a chorus in singing “Happy Birthday,” Obama met someone from his home state.

"My young son," a woman said to the president, pointing across the table and conferring further with Obama.

"He's a Hawaiian!" Obama exclaimed, looking up to face Andre Wupperman, who now lives in Orlando and will turn 7 next week, according to pool reporters.

"Do you know how to do a shaka?" he asked, making the Hawaiian gesture with his thumb and pinky finger.

"You were born in Hawaii?" he asked the child next, then pointed at him. "Do you have a birth certificate?"

Behind Obama's grin and laughs from those nearby lie the conspiracy theories of some conservative Republicans, who maintain that Obama was not born in the United States, and is therefore not eligible to be president.

He released a certification of live birth during the 2008 campaign, and in the spring of 2011, released his long-form birth certificate. Both show that he 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.

Among the highest-profile "birthers," as they are known, are Donald Trump and Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Arpaio, the top law enforcement officer in Maricopa County, Arizona, earlier this year held a press conference to announce findings of an investigation he led into documents.

Trump, who has endorsed and fund-raised for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, threw a wrench into the Republican candidate's messaging this summer with tweets and comments, including on CNN's "The Situation Room," skeptical of Obama's birthplace.

And Romney himself raised the issue two weeks ago. At a rally in his home state of Michigan, Romney made what he later claimed was a joke about his own birth certificate.

"Ann was born at Henry Ford hospital, I was born at Harper hospital," he said. "No one has ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place that we were born and raised."

In an interview later that day, Romney said, "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."

Humor needs a punch line.

And Saturday in Florida, Obama was laughing.

Filed under: 2012 • Donald Trump • Florida • Mitt Romney • President Obama
soundoff (384 Responses)
  1. bengalskuta82

    If Obamas going to joke about, why is it a big deal when other people joke about it.Yes Romney made a joke about it and boom, its huge deal.Obama has joked about it before. The truth I guess came out already so from now onwards shouldn't it just be seen as a joke?

    September 9, 2012 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  2. Barbara

    I thought comments aren't supposed to be prescreened. So much for freedom of speech. CNN is a tool of the Democratic party.

    September 9, 2012 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  3. K

    If this is the best joke Romney can make ... it just proves he's an automaton. Moreover, what kind of short-sighted dolt is he? The worst thing he could do is bring this back up (and make himself look foolish). He's been hammering away on the economy (with little progress) and getting diverted by this will take him further away from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

    September 9, 2012 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  4. Lindsay

    Is this journalism? An example of the relevant, unbiased reporting CNN claims to provide? Time to move on to another news source.

    September 9, 2012 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  5. bradlarochelle

    Let's see. Romney jokes about it and you attack him, Obama jokes about it and you praise him? what happened to American journalism? Your influence is lost because you are seen as in the tank, how about becoming a reporter, and report with trying to influence? Have some honor and integrity – it matters.

    September 9, 2012 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  6. Ben

    I am awaiting all the libs who two weeks ago said Romney's joke at a rally was so horrible and disrespectful to the office of the president to comment now....waiting...

    September 9, 2012 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  7. Rem1061

    The Birth Certificate BS was (I Hope) the low point of the Repubs. That had to be the stupidest issue to bring up in the history of Presidential politics. Donald Trump is an embarrassment to the Republican Party and Sheriff Arpaio is right behind him. When a political party has to stoop that low to dig up "dirt" on a contender, they have already lost. If they are going to win this election they need to make it about real issues that affect all Americans, instead of the blind hatred of "Not our Party" they have been showing for the last 4 years. Quit with the us versus them and get with the “Best for Americans of all groups". Please.

    September 9, 2012 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  8. Joe Brown


    September 9, 2012 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  9. avis

    I am interested in Romney's Tax statements in Years before 2010 – rather than Obama's birth certificate

    September 9, 2012 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  10. Hruthwu;f

    Mitt Romney won't distance himself from Donald Trump on the birther issue (remember Donald's melt-down earlier this year?). it doesn't make much sense that Romney leapt to condemn an independent plan to link Obama to Jeremiah Wright - an attack that is factually defensible, if politically dangerous - but is willing to indulge birtherism, a belief that is factually and morally indefensible.

    Will Romney be able to maintain his po-faced insistence that he is not his fundraiser's keeper? TThe Donald is simply incable of restraining himself when there's a chance for shmeless self-promotion and a sound byte on the news. Perhaps Donald will eventually go too far - even for Romney.

    September 9, 2012 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  11. Sian Rose

    I am annoyed to see the President still playing to this silliness. I would have been rankled to have my birthright questioned also but, President Obama, when you're on the international stage it seems almost petty to give any more credence to this ridiculousness.

    September 9, 2012 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  12. RF

    It might not even have been his intention, but Obama's quip to the boy wasn't just a swipe at the birthers. It also was a brilliant dig at those who are trying to suppress the vote by demanding frequently unobtainable ID's. Go get 'em, Mr. President!!!!

    September 9, 2012 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  13. Marie MD

    Just watched that on TV. That was funny!!!

    September 9, 2012 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  14. retief1954

    Romney's idea of humor. Haha.

    September 9, 2012 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  15. Maria Morris

    I was at Gators in Florida when Pres. Obama came in. He sang happy birthday to my daughter and greeted me in the Spaniard style, with a kiss on the cheeck. He later heard and accompanied my three years old grandchild singing The Stars Spangle Banner. What a treat! And I have the video on Yotube to proove it He seems very down to hearth, and very aproachable.

    September 9, 2012 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  16. deb

    Republicans-we've struggled over the economy since the Bush era and they you are STILL WASTING OUR TIME WITH THIS ISSUE!!

    September 9, 2012 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  17. Surfer George

    Its good to have a sense of humor about crazy.

    September 9, 2012 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  18. kim

    Another thing Romney could Learn from Obama, a punchline.

    September 9, 2012 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  19. buffiesguy

    Mitt Romney's "joke" in Michigan re: birth certificates was not a joke at all. Mr. Romney's intent could only be construed, by a reasonable person, as incendiary. It was clearly an attempt to fan the flames of "birther-ism" and those silly people who still question our President's citizenship.

    Mr. Romney, and his handlers – as well as Mr. Ryan and his handlers – are a gaggle of contemptuous, vile, vulgar creatures. They care about destroying our President and our country – motivated by hatred, and rage-driven racism.

    How sad to know that the Romney/Ryan ticket could actually prevail in November. What a sad profile of our country's Right and Ultra-Right. So ugly ! ! !

    September 9, 2012 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  20. danita

    Does Obama really have one? com/watch?v=tCAffMSWSzY

    add youtube. ( in the front)

    September 9, 2012 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  21. Michael

    Yes he has a birth certificate, there is no doubt in my mind about that.... HOWEVER to meet Kenya's requirements to be put in school his U.S. Citizenship was revoked and he became a Kenyan Citizen (His father did this as he was too young to know what was going on however he should have known this if not shame on him) the big question is When he came back to the U.S. did he re-apply for Citizenship?? Also I believe that to be a President you can not have revoked your U.S. Citizenship at any time (His Father did it for him see comments above)... THUS IMPEACH HIM! Simple and Plain he is portraying our president ILLEGALLY.

    September 9, 2012 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  22. Nietodarwin

    Funny stuff Mr. President. President Obama has a great sense of humor. My favorite picture of him is from a few years back when one of his aides is weighing himself on a scale in a college football locker room, and the President has his foot on the scale, unbeknownst to the guy weighing himself, adding on some weight and a few extra pounds, with everybody else laughing, a big grin on the president's face, and only the guy on the scale not in on the joke.

    September 9, 2012 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  23. jarmaine

    i have to admit, as much as i don't like obama, that was pretty funny.

    September 9, 2012 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  24. nmdave

    Then why doesn't he release his college records...FOREIGN STUDENT!!!

    September 9, 2012 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  25. Ernie Zippreplat

    Where is you birth certificate Mr. President!

    September 9, 2012 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
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