Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney cracked a birther joke Friday and President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign wasn’t laughing.
Campaigning in Michigan, Romney waxed poetic about being in the home state where he and wife Ann were born and met.
“Ann was born in Henry Ford Hospital. I was born at Harper Hospital,” Romney told a crowd in Commerce, Mich. “No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place we were born and raised.”
The remark, which brought cheers from the crowd, drew condemnation from Obama’s campaign.
“It’s one thing to give the stage in Tampa to Donald Trump, Sheriff Arpaio and Kris Kobach,” Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt said. “But Governor Romney’s decision to directly enlist himself in the birther movement should give pause to any rational voter across America.”
Romney’s joke appeared to be an effort to appeal to a segment of voters who are convinced that Obama was not born in the United States and isn’t a U.S. citizen, despite his late white mother being from Kansas. His late father was from Kenya. Obama was born in Hawaii.
Kevin Madden, a Romney campaign spokesman, said there was nothing sinister about Romney’s remarks.
“The governor has always said, and has repeatedly said, he believes the president was born in the United States,” Madden told the Associated Press. “He was only referencing that Michigan, where he is campaigning today, is the state where he was born and raised.”
After years of questions raised by birthers, Obama released his long form birth certificate last year. But even that hasn’t been enough to quash the birther talk. Despite being the butt of Obama’s jokes at last year’s White House Correspondents dinner for his birther stance, real estate mogul and reality TV show host Donald Trump continues to question Obama’s roots.
Romney’s dig could have been payback for Obama making a joke recently about the time Romney strapped the family dog to the roof of the car on a family vacation.
Some of the folks in the Commerce crowd loved Romney’s joke.
“(Romney) was born and raised in Michigan and as far as Obama goes, his grandma was there at his birth and his grandma has never been outside Kenya,” a woman named Terese Cayline told BuzzFeed.com . “So I find it ironic that he won’t show the real birth certificate.”