Campaigning today in the state of his birth, Michigan, Mitt Romney joked about the birth certificate issue that has dogged Barack Obama, drawing an immediate sharp attack from the Obama campaign.
“I love being home, in this place where Ann and I were raised, where both of us were born,” said Romney, who was sporting an open-collar white shirt with his sleeves rolled up as his wife and running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., stood nearby.
“Ann was born in Henry Ford Hospital; I was born in Harper Hospital. No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate; they know that this is the place that we were born and raised,” Romney quipped.
His comments at the Long Family Orchard, Farm & Cider Mill in Commerce Township, Mich., were in the first three minutes of a speech in a 45-minute campaign event recorded in its entirety by C-Span.
In response, the Obama campaign shot back just a couple of hours later with a post on the president’s Facebook page:
Mitt Romney directly enlisted himself in the birther movement this morning: “No one has ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know this is the place I was born.” Get the President’s back. Stand with him in this election against false, divisive charges.
A message sent from Obama’s personal Twitter account called it a “new low for Romney.”
In another tweet, Obama declared, “This is personal now,” posting a link to a story about why Republican women purportedly are voting for Romney.
The president also took the opportunity, via Twitter, to pitch his campaign’s “Made in the USA” mug, which features an image of the birth record the White House posted on its website.
The Obama campaign’s Facebook response featured a photo of Obama at a podium, squinting in the sun, wearing a white shirt with a blue tie, his sleeves also rolled up his forearms.
Within an hour, the Obama response received more than 3,000 mostly supportive comments and more than 26,000 “like it” endorsements.
When Romney released his birth certificate in May, media raised the question of his eligibility, because his father, Gov. George Romney, was born in Mexico. WND reported Mitt Romney’s parents were U.S. citizens when Romney was born in Detroit, making him a “natural born citizen” under Article 2, Section 1 of the Constitution.
‘The toxic issue’
Within hours of Romney’s comments today, the Washington Post published an Obama-friendly account of the event, reporting Romney “injected the toxic issue of birtherism into an already bitter presidential race at an unhelpful time for the presumptive Republican nominee.”
The Post further noted the Obama campaign “seized on the remark to argue that Romney was embracing ‘strident’ conservatives, including real estate mogul Donald Trump and Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, two of the most hard-line opponents to illegal immigration.”
The newspaper also published Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt’s statement: “Throughout this campaign, Governor Romney has embraced the most strident voices in his party instead of standing up for them. Governor Romney’s decision to directly enlist himself in the birther movement should give pause to any rational voter around America.”
CBS News reported Romney campaign aide Kevin Madden sent an email to reporters saying the candidate was “only referencing that Michigan, where he is campaigning today, is the state where he himself was born and raised.”
Madden insisted Romney had not intended the comment as an attack on Obama.
“The governor has always said, and has repeatedly said, he believes the president was born here in the United States,” Madden wrote.
Rush comes to Mitt’s defense
The Hill weighed in, reporting Obama campaign traveling press secretary Jen Psaki jumped on Romney’s comment, denouncing a “pattern” of comments by the Republican challenger.
“This is the kind of gutterball politics that will and should turn the American people off,” Psaki told MSNBC, as reported by The Hill. “Mitt Romney has questioned repeatedly over the last several months whether the president understands America, whether he understands freedom – he’s wrapped his arms around Donald Trump, one of the originators of the birther movement, so we’ve seen a pattern here.”
The Hill further reported MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell asked Psaki how Romney’s comments differed in substance from a recent quip by Obama on a now infamous incident in which Romney strapped the family dog to the roof of his car.
Psaki defended Obama’s comment as a “light moment in a longer speech about the wind energy tax credit and how important that is for jobs,” not explaining how it differed in tone or nature from Romney’s comment.
Talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh had a question for Psaki on his top-rated show today.
“I thought this birth-certificate thing was a win-win for you guys because only kooks and idiots and extremists believe the birth certificate is a forgery. If that’s the case, why wouldn’t you want people to be making jokes about it?”
“So, what’s the deal,” Limbaugh continued. “Why are they so sensitive about this? There is only one real possibility: that Obama is such a narcissist, that you don’t dare criticize him.”
As WND reported, Arizona Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s law enforcement investigation into Obama’s eligibility has concluded that the long-form birth certificate posted on the White House website April 27, 2011, is a computer-generated forgery.
Obama has refused requests to give the Hawaii Department of Health permission to make whatever original 1961 birth records it may have available for public view or inspection by court-certified forensic examiners.