Mitt Romney - will you humor racist conspiracy theorists to win this election?
On August 24, Mitt Romney made an indefensible joke about how no one "had ever asked to see his birth certificate". His crowd in Michigan laughed. But his joke is a nod to the "Birther" conspiracy - that Obama is not American. The "Birther" movement is a fringe group of conservatives who do not believe Obama was born in the United States, despite clear evidence. They have never gotten over the fact that our president is African American.
So far in his campaign, Romney has described Obama as "foreign" and "un-American". Those words were meant to remind some white voters that they didn't think Obama was "like them". But this new joke is the most deliberate reference to one of the worst strains in todays politics.
When John McCain ran for office, he refused to pander to people who questioned Obama's citizenship. He told a woman who said she "couldn't trust Obama" because he was an "Arab" that Obama was a "decent family man citizen". But Romney seems to have decided to fan the flames of racism in our country instead of confronting them.
So far, Romney has claimed that his remark was "not a swipe" and noted that he "got a good laugh".
Mr. Romney: you owe Mr. Obama an apology. With seven birthers slated to speak at the Republican convention, you must know that the racist Birther theory was alive and well. Maybe you cannot admit that you intentionally made a racist comment, but you can still say you are sorry for what you said. At least say that you "misspoke" and re-affirm that you know Obama was born in the United States, just like you. Then, promise the American people that you will run this campaign without calling Obama "foreign", and do not claim to be more "American" than he is. America demands a campaign free of the kind of "humor" you employed today.