Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus on Sunday said he supported presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s joke about President Barack Obama’s birth certificate because the race needs “levity.”
Speaking to a large crowd of supporters in Michigan on Friday, Romney had come the closest yet to personally embracing the so-called birther movement’s theory that President Barack Obama is not a U.S. citizen.
“I love being home in this place where Ann and I were raised, where both of us were born,” the former Massachusetts governor said. “Ann was born at Henry Ford Hospital, I was born at Harper Hospital.”
“No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate,” he added. “They know that this is the place that we were born and raised.”
During a Sunday interview on CNN, host Candy Crowley asked Priebus if it was helpful for Romney to suggest that Obama was not a citizen.
“You know what? I think it’s a nothing,” the RNC chairman replied, pointing out that Romney had repeated acknowledged that the president was born in Hawaii.
“But why even bring it up?” Crowley wondered. “When you bring it up, you put it out there and you’re a high-profile guy, you’re about to be the Republican nominee, and people think this is just playing to that group.”
“That wasn’t what he was doing,” Priebus insisted. “He’s making the point, ‘I’m from Michigan, I was born here.'”
“And you know what? Have we really gotten to the point we can’t have any levity at all in politics? I mean, we’ve gotten to a place in politics that is just ridiculous. No one can say anything that’s remotely humorous. You know, the president makes jokes about this all the time.”
Watch this video from CNN’s State of the Union, broadcast Aug. 23, 2012.
(h/t: Talking Points Memo)