By Justin Sink and Amie ParnesÂ – The Hill
Mitt Romney on Friday used a rally in his native state of Michigan to take a swipe at the controversy surrounding President Obama’s birth certificate, reintroducing discussion of the president’s birthplace into the campaign â€” and providing Team Obama with a new round of ammunition.
Romney made the comment early in his speech to the thousands of supporters gathered a short drive from the town where he and his wife, Ann, grew up.
â€œNow I love being home in this place where Ann and I were raised, where both of us were born. Ann was born in Henry Ford Hospital. I was born in Harper Hospital,” Romney said.
“No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place that we were born and raised.”
The joke, a clear allusion to conspiracy theories surrounding Obama’s birthplace, drew quick condemnation from Democrats eager to highlight the moment as the latest gaffe in a rough week for the Republican presidential hopeful.
Headlines in the days preceding the Republican National Convention were dominated by controversial comments about rape by Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) and a potential hurricane threatening to disrupt the GOP gathering, which starts Monday in Tampa, Fla.
Democratic strategist Steve Elmendorf, a veteran of presidential campaigns, said he was “baffled” by Romney’s remark.
“I think if he wants to get elected, he’s got to move to the center and he’s got to have a Sister Souljah moment with the people in his party, but he’s doing exactly the opposite,” Elmendorf said. “Birthers are the craziest of the crazy. He’s got to, at some point, show him that he’s not captured by the people in his party that many people can’t tolerate.”
“Anytime where the Republican campaign is not focused squarely on the economy is a good day for Democrats,” Elmendorf said. “Anytime they’re talking about Medicare, abortion, birthers, we’re winning.”
Obama campaign officials also said privately they thought the remark was “over the line,” especially after Romney had spent much of the past two weeks criticizing the president over the tenor of the campaign.
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