Mitt Romney descended into birther politics today, when he joked during a campaign stop that “No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate.”
“I love being home, where the both of us were born,” Romney said at a rally in his native Michigan. “Ann was born in Henry Ford Hospital. I was born in Harper Hospital.”
“No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate,” he continued. “They know this is the place where we were born and raised!”
The Obama campaign immediately condemned Romney’s remark, which drew laughter and applause from the crowd.
“Throughout this campaign, Governor Romney has embraced the most strident voices in his party instead of standing up to them,” Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said in a statement.
“It’s one thing to give the stage in Tampa to Donald Trump, Sheriff (Joe) Arpaio, and Kris Kobach. But Governor Romney’s decision to directly enlist himself in the birther movement should give pause to any rational voter across America.”
Romney adviser Kevin Madden denied that Romney was playing racial politics.
“The governor has always said, and has repeatedly said, he believes the president was born here in the United States,” Madden said in a statement. “He was only referencing that Michigan, where he is campaigning today, is the state where he himself was born and raised.”
Whether Romney was trying to sound a racial dog whistle or just making a bad joke, his comments will certainly give ammunition to those who have accused Romney of exploiting racial tensions (most notably with his widely debunked welfare attacks.) It also makes Romney’s demand that Obama take his “campaign out of the gutter” seem even more hypocritical.
One thing is certain: those who are hoping for the “big ideas” campaign to begin will have to wait a little longer.