By CNN Political Unit
COMMERCE, Michigan (CNN) – Mitt Romney chose a Friday campaign rally in Michigan, the state where he was born, to make reference to the highly charged and controversial “birther” movement, joking that “no one has ever asked to see my birth certificate.”
A fringe of conservative Republicans continue to believe that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States. Those in that movement are referred to as “birthers.”
A certification of live birth released by Obama during the 2008 campaign, and then the long-form certificate released by the White House in the spring of 2011, both stated the president was born in a Hawaii hospital on August 4, 1961. Contemporaneously published newspaper announcements also noted the birth in the Aloha State. Only “natural born” citizens of the United States are eligible to be president.
“I love being home in this place where Ann and I were raised, where both of us were born,” Romney said on Friday. “Ann was born at Henry Ford hospital, I was born at Harper hospital. No one has ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place that we were born and raised.”
Among the highest profile of those questioning Obama’s birthplace is Donald Trump, who earlier this year endorsed Romney and has said he will have a high-profile role at the Republican National Convention next week. He increased the drumbeat for the White House to release Obama’s long-form in the spring of 2011, just prior to its release. Despite the document being in the public sphere, Trump has continued to question Obama’s birthplace in media appearances and in social media posts.
In a statement responding to Romney’s comments, Obama campaign press secretary Ben LaBolt mentioned Trump and others who have raised the birth certificate issue previously.
“Throughout this campaign, Governor Romney has embraced the most strident voices in his party instead of standing up to them,” LaBolt said. “It’s one thing to give the stage in Tampa to Donald Trump, Sheriff 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 senior adviser Kevin Madden said after the candidate’s remarks, “The governor has always said, and has repeatedly said, he believes the president was born here in the United States. He was only referencing that Michigan, where he is campaigning today, is the state where he himself was born and raised.”
Another aide noted that Romney “wasn’t using prepared remarks.”
In his Friday remarks, Romney’s reference was to his own birth certificate, not that of Obama. Nevertheless, the crowd roared when Romney made the quip, and many supporters afterwards said they remained skeptical about where Obama was born.
“I thought it was great because why should we have to worry about whether the president has a birth certificate or not,” Guy Myers of Clarkston, Michigan, said.
Another supporter, Lauri Pierce of Midland, said it drew a contrast for her between Romney and Obama.
“Well Mitt’s from Michigan. There’s no question about where he’s from,” Pierce said. “And you hear a lot of questions about Obama. You don’t know, but you hear questions.”
CNN’s Rachel Streitfeld, Jim Acosta and Gregory Wallace contributed to this report.