WASHINGTON — Mitt Romney appeared to joke on Friday about debunked claims over President Obama’s citizenship, telling a crowd in his native Michigan that “no one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate.” Romney reminded the crowd in suburban Detroit that he and his wife, Ann, were born in Michigan. “They know that this is the place where both of us were born and raised,” he said.
Romney had generally avoided getting into the debate over Obama’s birth certificate, which has become a prominent issue in some conservative circles. Friday’s comment appeared to be a nod to those who continue to question whether Obama was born in the United States even though he has released a birth certificate showing that he was born in a hospital in Hawaii.
In a later interview with CBS News, Romney said the comments were meant as a joke, and he was not questioning the president’s citizenship.
“No, no, not a swipe,” Romney added. “I’ve said throughout the campaign and before, there’s no question about where he was born. He was born in the US. This was fun about us, and coming home. And humor, you know — we’ve got to have a little humor in a campaign as well.”
Obama’s campaign quickly denounced the comment.
“Governor Romney’s decision to directly enlist himself in the birther movement should give pause to any rational voter across America,” Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt said in a statement. Romney has welcomed the support of Donald Trump, who has continued to stoke speculation about Obama’s birth certificate.
GOP leaders aim to curb insurgents, punish states for early primaries
TAMPA — Republican loyalists to Mitt Romney are trying to make it harder for insurgent presidential candidates such as Ron Paul to have a big voice in future nominating conventions.
GOP rule-makers voted Friday to tie the selection of convention delegates to the results of each state’s primary. Paul’s supporters used state party meetings or conventions in some states to pick pro-Paul delegates to attend next week’s convention. Paul won no primaries. But he amassed about 175 delegates, partly through such means. Romney allies said primary voters expect national convention delegates to be loyal to the primary winner.
On a separate issue, the Republican rule-makers drafted tougher penalties for states that schedule presidential primaries earlier than the party wants.
The tentative vote seems to strengthen Iowa’s and New Hampshire’s traditional role of hosting the nation’s first presidential votes. Using existing rules to punish Florida for jumping the line in the primary calendar, Republican leaders cut in half the state’s number of delegates to next week’s convention. Florida will have 50 voting delegates. Under the rules change tentatively approved Friday, states that buck future official GOP primary schedules will be granted no more than 12 voting delegates.
Both proposed changes are subject to final votes by the full convention.
Democrats will keep heat on while GOP basks in convention spotlight
WASHINGTON — Democrats want to cause a stir — or at least stay in the conversation — while the spotlight is on Republicans next week at the GOP convention in Tampa.
President Obama and his campaign are seeking to counter Mitt Romney’s message and try to head off any dramatic climb for the Republican challenger in postconvention polls.
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will campaign in four battleground states, and Obama’s campaign will hold events around the country aimed at female voters. The campaign also plans an economic-themed bus tour through Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin with party activists.
In Tampa, Democrats plan daily events with party officials and middle-class Americans to counter the Republican ticket. The activity will lead into the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., beginning Sept. 4.
In opinion piece,Romneyemphasizes his successeswhile at Bain Capital
WASHINGTON — Mitt Romney, in an effort to steer the conversation back to positive aspects of his business experience, wrote an opinion piece in Friday’s Wall Street Journal focused on his long tenure at Bain Capital.
The column, with the headline, “What I Learned at Bain Capital,” comes days before Republicans gather in Tampa to nominate Romney as their presidential candidate, a four-day event that is designed to promote Romney’s strengths.
His experience at the Boston-based Bain, a private equity company, has been the subject of harsh criticism, from Republicans during the primary race and from Democrats in recent months.
They have accused him of loading companies with debt and triggering bankruptcies while reaping millions of dollars for himself, his business partners, and their investors.
In his opinion piece, Romney highlights companies the firm helped start, including office-supply store Staples and child-care provider Bright Horizons,and struggling companies it helped get going again, such as retailer Brookstone and contact-lens maker Wesley Jessen.
“A broad message emerges from my Bain Capital days: A good idea is not enough for a business to succeed,” Romney wrote. “It requires a talented team, a good business plan, and capital to execute it.”
Romney details some of the ways he would use that philosophy and apply it to the federal government, as he did when he ran the 2002 Winter Olympics and when he served as governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007.
Romney also said he would reduce the amount of government regulation.
“I’m not sure Bain Capital could have grown or turned around some of the companies we invested in had we faced today’s antibusiness environment,” he wrote.