Mitt Romney made a joke about his birth certificate at a rally in Commerce, Mich. on Friday.
Speaking about his Michigan roots, he said, "No one's ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place that we were born and raised."
The joke was received with hearty applause by the audience. Still, it was awkward for Romney to play on the birther conspiracies that have plagued Barack Obama since he ran for president in 2008 and persisted even after he released his "long-form" birth certificate in 2011.
The Obama campaign quickly responded, with spokesman Ben LaBolt saying that Romney was embracing the most extreme elements in the conservative movement.
"Throughout this campaign, Governor Romney has embraced the most strident voices in his party instead of standing up to them," he said. "It's one thing to give the stage in Tampa to Donald Trump, Sheriff Arpaio, and Kris Kobach. But Governor Romney's decision to directly enlist himself in the birther movement should give pause to any rational voter across America."
Romney adviser Kevin Madden played down the joke, saying Romney was "only referencing that Michigan, where he is campaigning today, is the state where he himself was born and raised."
Mitt Romney's own birth certificate was released by Reuters on the same day as the candidate appeared with Donald Trump, who loudly amplified doubts about the president's birthplace.
Romney's son Matt joked earlier this year about Obama's birth certificate, a quip for which he later apologized. Referring to his father's tax returns, he said, "I heard that someone suggested that as soon as President Obama releases his grades, and birth certificate, and a sort of a long list of things, then maybe he will."
Romney has said that he believes that Obama was born in the United States. "I think the citizenship test has been passed. I believe the president was born in the United States. There are real reasons to get this guy out of office," he told Larry Kudlow in April 2011. "The man needs to be taken out of office but his citizenship isn't the reason why."
Rush Limbaugh cheered the joke, saying "Right on! Right on! Right on!" on his radio show Friday.
UPDATE: 2:15 p.m.-- The Obama campaign had a not-so-subtle response on Twitter later Friday:
UPDATE: 4:25 p.m.-- The Obama campaign sent out a fundraising email on the comment with a subject line, "A new low for Mitt Romney."
UPDATE: 5:27 p.m.--Mitt Romney insisted that the joke wasn't a "swipe" at the president. "I've said throughout the campaign and before, there's no question about where he was born. He was born in the U.S. This was fun about us, and coming home. And humor, you know -- we've got to have a little humor in a campaign," he told CBS News in an interview Friday. When asked if Obama was the "legitimate president of the United States," he said, "I've said that probably 30 times by now, and 31 certainly won't hurt."