Republican challenger Mitt Romney, at a rally today in Michigan, alluded to doubts raised by some of Barack Obama’s opponents that the president was born in the U.S.
“No one’s has ever asked to see my birth certificate,” Romney, standing with his wife, Ann, told the crowd in Commerce after noting he was born in Harper Hospital in Detroit, about 25 miles away. “They know this is the place that we were born and raised.”
Obama, the son of a mother from Kansas and a father from Kenya, has provided a long-form birth certificate showing he was born in Hawaii in 1961.
The birthplace comment marked a departure for Romney, who previously kept his distance from questions raised by so-called birthers who question whether Obama was born an American citizen and thus may not be qualified to serve as president. The comment also sparked a response from Obama’s campaign linking Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, to the birthers.
“Governor Romney has embraced the most strident voices in his party instead of standing up to them,” Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said in an e-mail. “But Governor Romney’s decision to directly enlist himself in the birther movement should give pause to any rational voter across America.”
Romney’s campaign played down the candidate’s comment.
“The governor has always said, and has repeatedly said, he believes the president was born here in the United States,” Kevin Madden, a Romney adviser, 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.”
Romney’s comment capped a week of distractions from his economic message as he prepares to officially claim his party’s nomination next week at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida.
Romney and other Republican leaders failed to persuade Senate candidate Todd Akin to step aside after an uproar over the Missourian’s comment that “legitimate rape” doesn’t often lead to pregnancies. And the posting of hundreds of pages of investment and tax documents from Boston-based Bain Capital LLC, fueled Democratic criticism about the private-equity firm Romney helped create.
Appearing today with his running mate, Representative Paul Ryan of Wiscosnin, Romney tried to return to the issues of creating jobs and sparking economic growth.
“This president tried,” Romney said at the Long Family Farm, Orchard and Cider Mill in Commerce, Michigan, about 20 miles away from companies such as General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC. “He was headed in the wrong direction. I want to get America on an entirely different track. And I know how to do it.”
Obama is using the federal rescue of U.S. automotive companies as a selling point in his re-election campaign while Romney has criticized those efforts.
Ryan, speaking before Romney, took a dig at Obama for saying during the 2008 campaign that some voters “cling to their guns or their religion.”
“This Catholic deer hunter is guilty as charged and proud of it,” Ryan said.
Obama carried Michigan by 16 percentage points in 2008, and led Romney by 6 percentage points in a Detroit News poll taken Aug. 18-20. The last Republican presidential candidate to win the state was George H.W. Bush in 1988.
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