At a campaign stop in Michigan on Friday, Mitt Romney ventured into the dark depths of birtherism when he made a joke about how people have never asked to see his birth certificate because they know he was born in Michigan.
At a time when the Republican Party is reeling from the outrageous comments about “legitimate rape” and pregnancy by Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin, Romney’s remark couldn’t come at a worse time. The Republican Party establishment has scrambled this week to distance itself from Akin in an effort to shake the perception that it is filled with extremists. The issue of President Obama’s birth certificate had been a rallying cry for GOP fringe figures and racists who sought to deny the legitimacy of his presidency.
Romney’s joke represents a departure from his general election strategy of portraying himself as a moderate conservative. His comment was likely an ad-lib, though many liberals will surely accuse him of deliberately engaging in dog-whistle politics. For the Romney campaign to have intentionally inserted a birther joke into the candidate's prepared remarks in a moderate state in which Obama leads, would mean it's amateur hour over at Team Romney. Although the campaign has had its missteps, it is difficult to imagine that it would blunder this badly.