The Obama campaign swiftly and harshly condemned a joke made by Mitt Romney about the president’s birth certificate on the campaign trail in Michigan Friday, saying Romney made the “decision to directly enlist himself in the birther movement.”
“I love being home, in this place where Ann and I were raised, where but the both of us were born,” Romney said after introducing his wife, fellow Michigan native Ann Romney. “No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place where we were born and raised.”
Donald Trump, the most prominent birther in America, is a prominent Romney backer and is scheduled to play a public role at Romney’s national convention in Tampa next week. Romney has said he doesn’t agree with Trump’s continued skepticism that Obama was, in fact, born in America but has declined to strongly repudiate him.
“You know, I don’t agree with all the people who support me and my guess is they don’t all agree with everything I believe in,” Romney told reporters in May. “But I need to get to 50.1 percent or more and I’m appreciative to have the help of a lot of good people.”
Trump continued to push his theories on Twitter in the same hour Romney was speaking.
The Obama campaign read Romney’s comment as a hat tip to Trump’s theories and hit him for declining to put real distance between himself and some of his more incendiary supporters.
“Throughout this campaign, Governor Romney has embraced the most strident voices in his party instead of standing up to them. It’s one thing to give the stage in Tampa to Donald Trump, Sheriff [Joe] Arpaio, and Kris Kobach,” Obama spokesperson Ben LaBolt said in a statement. “But Governor Romney’s decision to directly enlist himself in the birther movement should give pause to any rational voter across America.”
The Romney campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment from TPM. A Washington Post reporter tweeted soon after the joke that a Romney adviser told him, “The governor has always said, and has repeatedly said, he believes the president was born here in the United States.”