WASHINGTON – Mitt Romney on Friday afternoon appeared to joke about the debunked claims about President Obama’s citizenship, telling a crowd in his native Michigan, “no one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate.”
Romney reminded the crowd in suburban Detroit that he and his wife, Ann, were both born in Michigan.
“No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate,” he said. “They know that this is the place where both of us were born and raised.”
The comment appeared to be a clear dig at Obama, and a nod to those who question whether he 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 an interview that will air Friday night on CBS News, Romney said the comments were meant as a joke, and he was not questioning the president’s citizenship.
“Of course, a little humor always goes a long way,” Romney told CBS News’ Scott Pelly. “It was great to be home, to be in a place where Ann and I had grown up. The crowd loved it and got a good laugh.’’
“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.
“Throughout this campaign, Governor Romney has embraced the most strident voices in his party instead of standing up to them,” Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt said in a statement. “Governor Romney’s decision to directly enlist himself in the birther movement should give pause to any rational voter across America.”
Romney has generally avoided getting into the debate over Obama’s birth certificate, which has become a prominent issue in some conservative circles. But he has welcomed the support of Donald Trump, the entertainer and developer who has continued to stoke speculation about Obama’s birth certificate.
Matt Viser can be reached at email@example.com.