Mitt Romney can't seem to stop telling people in Michigan how much he feels at home there, but perhaps he should have stuck to praising the height of the trees. A comment he made on Friday morning -- that in Michigan "no one's ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place that we were born and raised" -- is now drawing fire from all sides.
Obama spokesperson Jen Psaki issued a scathing criticism, telling MSNBC, "This is the kind of gutterball [sic] politics that will and should turn the American people off. This is a pattern. Mitt Romney has questioned repeatedly over the last several months whether the president understands America, whether he understands freedom — he's wrapped his arms around Donald Trump, one of the originators of the birther movement, so we've seen a pattern here."
Rachel Maddow made a similar observation, pointing out on Twitter, "Today's remarks follow 5 straight Romney ads about Obama being the president of lazy welfare recipients taking your $. Not subtle."
However, the harshest words may have come from Andrew Rosenthal at the New York Times editorial page.
"Politicians sometimes think they can get away with saying something profoundly offensive or just plain stupid by acting like it was a joke," Rosenthal wrote. "It never works, just like it didn’t work today when Mr. Romney shamelessly played the birther card in what seems like an increasingly desperate campaign against President Obama."
"Today’s crack was way over the line," he continued. "His audience laughed and applauded, probably not because they thought Mr. Romney was doing hilarious stand-up comedy, but because they knew exactly what he was up to. ... It’s racism, pure and simple."
Later in the day, Romney attempted to do damage control, telling CBS News that his remarks were "not a swipe" at president Obama. "This was fun about us, and coming home," he insisted. "And humor, you know -- we've got to have a little humor in a campaign."
The harm had been done, however, and Romney's attempted explanation seemed to ring hollow. Even Cher got into the act, tweeting enthusiastically, "lip bitting over! Mitt Romney 'NO ONES EVER ASKED 2 SEE MY BIRTH CERTIFICATE' Ya No Why FOOL? U make 'WONDER BREAD LOOK DARK & MYSTERIOUS.'"
Image by DonkeyHotey via Flickr