The Washington Times - August 24, 2012, 01:00PM

COMMERCE, Mich. — GOP challenger Mitt Romney waded into conspiracy theories surrounding President Obama’s birthplace with a one-liner on Friday, telling the thousands at a campaign stop in the Detroit suburbs that there is no reason for them to question where Mr. Romney or his wife were born and raised.

The presumptive GOP nominee, stressing his Michigan roots, reminded the audience that he and his wife were born in nearby hospitals.

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“No one has ever asked to see my birth certificate, they know that this is the place that we were born,” he quipped, eliciting a roar of approval from the crowd gathered at the Long Family Farm, Orchard and Cider Mill.
The Romney camp said the governor was simply touting his Michigan pride, but the joke touched on a simmering controversy that the White House has struggled to quell since Mr. Obama was elected.

“The governor has always said, and has repeatedly said, he believes the president was born here in the United States,” said Kevin Madden, a Romney adviser. “He was only referencing that Michigan, where he is campaigning today, is the state where he himself was born and raised.”

They also pointed out to an April interview on CNBC’s “Kudlow Report” in which the former Massachusetts governor said that he thinks the president passed the “citizenship test” and “was born in the United States.”

The Obama campaign, though, seized on the remarks, touting them as proof that Mr. Romney has embraced the more fringe elements of the Republican Party.

“Throughout this campaign, Governor Romney has embraced the most strident voices in his party instead of standing up to them. It’s one thing to give the stage in Tampa to Donald Trump, Sheriff [Joe] Arpaio, and [Kansas Secretary of State and anti-illegal immigration activist] Kris Kobach. But Governor Romney’s decision to directly enlist himself in the birther movement should give pause to any rational voter across America,” said Ben LaBolt, an Obama campaign spokesman.

Despite repeated denials from the White House, and the release of state records evidence that he was born in Honolulu on Aug. 4, 1961, the questions surrounding Mr. Obama’s birth have dogged him during his first term.

Fact-checking organizations have debunked the theory espoused by the so-called “birthers” as well as New York real estate magnate Mr. Trump and Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who claimed at a press conference this year that he is confident that the birth certificate released by the White House in 2011 is a fraud.

Mr. Obama has joked about the accusations, and soon after releasing his long-form birth certificate, he appeared at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, where he mocked Mr. Trump, who had said his own investigators were looking into the matter.

“No one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than The Donald. And that’s because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter, like, did we fake the moon landing? What really happened in Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac?” Mr. Obama said.