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Republicans Were Silent as Romney Played the Birther Card

September 21, 2015

The 2016 Republican presidential field is shocked--shocked!--that frontrunner Donald Trump refused to correct a questioner insisting President Obama is a Muslim foreigner. Recalling one of the finest moments for the GOP's 2008 nominee, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) revealing explained, "This happens to all of us. It happened to John McCain. You have to push back."
But in 2012, none of the GOP's best and brightest pushed back when their man Mitt Romney casually played the Birther card.
As a quick backwards glance shows, it wasn't just Romney surrogates like John Sununu wishing "this president would learn how to be an American." On July 17, 2012, Mitt got in on the act, too, telling listeners that "his course is extraordinarily foreign." Two days later, Romney repeated the charge in response to the growing outcry about his mystery tax returns, shockingly low tax rate and private equity parasitism:

"This idea of criticizing and attacking success, of demonizing those in all walks of life who have been successful, is so foreign to us we simply can't understand it."

When Governor Romney wasn't accusing the President of the United States of being "extraordinarily foreign," he was providing aid and comfort to conservative fabulists claiming they could prove it. After all, Mitt Romney didn't just refuse to repudiate his Obama birth certificate fraud Donald Trump. Truth be damned, Romney suggested, instead arguing that cobbling together a majority--any majority--was what his candidacy was all about:

"You know, I don't agree with all the people who support me and my guess is they don't all agree with everything I believe in," Romney said. "But I need to get 50.1% or more and I'm appreciative to have the help of a lot of good people."

Among those "good people" were Romney's five sons, the same ones Mitt boasted in 2007 said "showing support for our nation" by "helping me get elected because they think I'd be a great president." The Five Brothers also regurgitated the Birther lies vomited forth by the likes of Limbaugh, Trump and Romney campaign traveling companion Jerome Corsi. When Tagg Romney wasn't joking about "taking a swing" at President Obama, his brother Matt got laughs from New Hampshire Republicans when he brushed off requests for his father's secret tax returns this way:

"I heard someone suggest the other day that as soon as President Obama releases his grades and birth certificate ...then maybe he'll do it."

While he later apologized on Twitter ("my bad"), there was no need for Matt to say sorry to dad. After all, in August 2012 Mitt Romney himself told an audience in Michigan:

"Now I love being home in this place where Ann and I were raised, where both of us were born," the GOP hopeful told the crowd. "Ann was born in Henry Ford Hospital. I was born at Harper Hospital. No one's ever asked to see my birth certificate, they know that this is the place that we were born and raised."

Those Michigan Republicans laughed and cheered. They certainly weren't going to be set straight by the GOP's leadership in Congress.
On January 23, 2011, the new House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) told Meet the Press host David Gregory he would not speak out against those "who think that his birth certificate is inauthentic."

GREGORY: Will you call that what it is, which is crazy talk?
CANTOR: [laughs] David, you know, a lot of that has been an issue sort of generated by not only the media but others in the country. Most Americans really are beyond that and they want us to focus -
GREGORY: Is somebody who brings that up engaging in crazy talk?
CANTOR: David I don't think it's nice to call anyone crazy, OK?

While Cantor ultimately acknowledged, "I think the president is a citizen of the United States," his boss John Boehner (R-OH) followed the same formula. Three weeks later, the new Speaker of the House told David Gregory, "I believe that the president is a citizen. I believe the president is a Christian, I'll take him at his word." But when Gregory pushed him to accept the "responsibility to stand up to that kind of ignorance," Boehner repeatedly refused.

David, it's not my job to tell the American people what to think. Our job in Washington is to listen to the American people...Listen, the American people have the right to think what they want to think. I can't -- it's not my job to tell them.

Apparently, that job belongs to the likes of Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and Donald Trump. Which is why a recent PPP poll found that "Trump Supporters Think Obama is A Muslim Born in Another Country":

Our new poll finds that Trump is benefiting from a GOP electorate that thinks Barack Obama is a Muslim and was born in another country, and that immigrant children should be deported. 66% of Trump's supporters believe that Obama is a Muslim to just 12% that grant he's a Christian. 61% think Obama was not born in the United States to only 21% who accept that he was...
Trump's beliefs represent the consensus among the GOP electorate. 51% overall want to eliminate birthright citizenship. 54% think President Obama is a Muslim. And only 29% grant that President Obama was born in the United States. That's less than the 40% who think Canadian born Ted Cruz was born in the United States.

These numbers have only increased since Barack Hussein Obama first took the oath of office. But the Republicans who said nothing when Mitt Romney trafficked in typical Tea Party race-baiting. The change came about not because the GOP's White House rivals look down on Donald Trump, but precisely because they are looking up at him.


About

Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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