Mitt Romney’s Friday joke about the controversy over President Barack Obama’s birthplace has given Democrats another opportunity to gain some political advantage from the long-standing “birther” controversy.
“Our take: Gov. Romney’s decision to directly enlist himself in the birther movement should give pause to any rational voter across America,” claimed a 1.17 p.m. EST tweet from the Obama campaign, which has repeatedly highlight controversies that divert attention from the nation’s stalled economy.
“[N]ow Romney is a birther, huh?” said a similar 12.27 p.m. EST tweet from Brad Woodhouse, the spokesman for the Democratic National Committee.
Those jibes came quickly after Romney gave a stump-speech in Michigan, where he highlighted his various links to the state.
“I love being home, in this place where Ann [Romney] and I were raised,” he said, adding, “where both of us were born … No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate.”
Romney has publicly disavowed the claims that Obama was born overseas. “I think the citizenship test has been passed. I believe the president was born in the United States,” he said in April.
On Friday Romney campaign adviser Kevin Madden reaffirmed that Romney “has repeatedly said he believes the president was born here in the United States.”
The Michigan speech was intended to boost his campaign in the state, where recent polls show his support drawing close to Obama’s numbers.
The Obama campaign’s quick reaction to Romney’s joke likely will divert media attention from Romney speech, where he touted his plan to jump-start the nation’s stalled economy, and to reverse record unemployment, deficits and federal spending.
The Democrats’ jibes came only three days after Obama revived the controversy to deflect bipartisan criticism about the leaking of national security secrets from the White House.
That criticism includes a video from a group called the Special Operations OPSEC Education Fund. Their video, dubbed “Dishonorable Disclosures,” has 3.1 million hits and prompted fierce criticism from Democrats, including from Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and Obama’s spokesman Ben LeBolt.
During an August 21 interview with a Virginia newspaper, Obama dismissed the criticism about national security leaks, saying, “I don’t take these folks too seriously.”
“One of their members is a birther who denies I was born here, despite evidence to the contrary … This kind of stuff springs up before election time,” he said, without offering any argument against the evidence that the administration leaked secrets to boost the president’s apparent successes in fighting jihadi terrorists.
Obama has raised the issue on numerous other occasions, and his campaign website even sells a cup carrying an image of Obama’s birth certificate.
The website also invites supporters to deride conspiracy theorists with jokes about Obama’s birthplace, saying, “There’s really no way to make the conspiracy about President Obama’s birth certificate completely go away, so we might as well laugh at it — and make sure as many people as possible are in on the joke. Get your Obama birth certificate Made in the USA mug today.”