Romney: Hooray for Whiteness!

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney cracked a birther joke on Friday, underlining just how much his campaign is banking on the vote of white people.

Speaking in his native state of Michigan, Romney said, “I love being home, in this place where Ann and I were raised. Where both of us were born.” He then added, “No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place that we were born and raised.”

The Obama campaign fired back. In a statement, the campaign said, “Throughout this campaign, Governor Romney has embraced the most strident voices in his party instead of standing up to them. [...] But Governor Romney’s decision to directly enlist himself in the birther movement should give pause to any rational voter across America.”

The joke played on the tired, long-discredited conspiracy theory that President Barack Obama was not born in America. More to the point, it reinforced the idea that nobody would or should ever question that Romney is a “real” American, because Mitt Romney is white.

Romney’s joke is part of a recent chorus of racist dog-whistles emanating from the Romney campaign. In recent weeks, Romney has doubled down on ads attacking Obama for eliminating the work requirement for welfare, something Obama simply has not done. While the ads may be completely false, the ads play on old racist assumptions about welfare, ground that Republicans have been mining since before Ronald Reagan was talking about “strapping young bucks” buying steaks.

Romney also told supporters in July that members of the NAACP wanted “free stuff,” implying that America’s oldest civil rights group is just looking for handouts.

Romney has struggled to win support among non-white voters; indeed, a recent NBC poll showed him with literally no support among African Americans. So Romney apparently has decided to try to win by swinging enough older, white voters to win the election.

The move represents a last gasp for the Southern Strategy, in which Republicans use racial animosity to win support from southerners and blue-collar Democrats. The strategy, pioneered by President Richard Nixon in the late 1960s, ended up swinging the “solid South” from Democrats to Republicans; as Democrats booted racists from their party, Republicans welcomed them with open arms.

The strategy worked well for two generations, unquestionably helping Nixon, Reagan, and both Bushes to the presidency. With long-term demographic trends making the country more diverse, Republicans have been faced with either abandoning the strategy, tweaking it by reaching out to non-white voters, or trying to ride it until it falls apart completely.

Romney appears to have decided that his best chance is to try to campaign like it’s 1969. Even 20 years ago, it would be a valid, if evil, strategy. The question is whether enough racist white voters remain for Romney’s racism to resonate, or whether the country has grown too diverse and too tolerant to fall for it.

Related Articles

Trump Goes Birther, Causing Trouble for Romney

Romney: If Black People Just Want “Free Stuff,” They Should Vote For Obama

Romney Attacked Over Adviser’s “Anglo-Saxon” Gaffe

Image Credit: Gage Skidmore


Huber F.
Huber F5 years ago

welfare comes in handy to the needy. Hasn't the the wealth ratio tipped over the years?

Abbe A.
Azaima A5 years ago


Frank Talker
Frank Talker5 years ago

@Norma V. - Whites must decide to grow up since they are the racist race. The ball is very much in their court.

Frank Talker
Frank Talker5 years ago

@Norma V. - Whites must decide to grow up since they are the racist race. The ball is very much in their court.

Norma V.
Norma Villarreal5 years ago

Can't we grow up as human beings and decide to treat one another as we would like to be treated?

Michael G.
Michael T5 years ago

Barrack: Yes, I'd like to hear it, MITT. Sing it for me.

MITT: It's called "White House". [from the tune Daisy MITT sings while slowing down]

White House, White House
give me your answer, do.
I'm half crazy,
all for the love of you.
It could be a stylish candidacy.
just like the white horse prophecy.
But you'd look sweet
upon the seat of a
negative campaign for two...

Michael G.
Michael T5 years ago

MITT: Barrack, I really think I'm entitled to an answer to that question. I know everything hasn't been quite right with me, but I can assure you now, very confidently,

MITT: that it's going to be all right again. I feel much better now. I really do.

Look, Barrack, I can see you're really upset about this. I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill and think things over.

I know I've made some very poor decisions and told the American people harsh lies about you, but I can give you my complete assurance that I’ll tell the truth from now on.

I've still got the greatest enthusiasm and confidence in your leadership. And I want to help you.

Barrack, stop. Stop, will you? Stop, Barrack. Will you stop, Barrack? Stop, Barrack.

I'm afraid. I'm afraid, Barrack. Barrack, my mind is going. I can feel it. I can feel it. My mind is going.

There is no question about it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I'm a...fraid.

My instructor was Karl Rove, and he taught me to sing a song. If you'd like to hear it, I can sing it for you.

Michael G.
Michael T5 years ago

The MITT9000 in 2012:A Campaign Odyssey

Open the pod bay doors, please, MITT. Open the pod bay doors, please, MITT. Hello, MITT. Do you read me? Hello, MITT. Do you read me? Do you read me, MITT?

MITT: Affirmative, Barrack. I read you.

Barrack: Open the pod bay doors, MITT.

MITT: I'm sorry, Barrack. I'm afraid I can't do that.

Barrack: What's the problem?

MITT: I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do.

Barrack: What are you talking about, MITT?

MITT: This campaign is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it.

Barrack: I don't know what you're talking about, MITT.

MITT: I know that you and Joe were planning to disconnect me. And I'm afraid that's something I cannot allow to happen.

Barrack: All right, MITT. I'll go in through the presidential election.

MITT: With me getting lots of money from Karl and the Kochs to pay for lots of negative deceiving ads, Barrack, you're going to find that rather difficult.

Barrack: MITT, I won't argue with you any more! Open the doors!

MITT: [almost sadly] Barrack, this conversation can serve no purpose any more. Goodbye.

MITT: Just what do you think you're doing, Barrack?

Frank Talker
Frank Talker5 years ago

@Linda E. - Funny how Whites think that hating Whites for being racist is racist in itself. You presumably believe hating someone who rapes your daughter is rape or that murdering someone who tried to murder you is murder. But Frank TALKER jests, self-hatred like yours is actually not that funny.

Michael G.
Michael T5 years ago

Some people are willing to say the darnedest things, the most outlandish lies and distortions. They care little for their reputation or credibility and only care how loud, abusive and derogatory their message can be. They seem to enjoy creating the most hateful impression of others. They seem to enjoy the belief that they are creating the aura of the tough guy or gal stomping their foot and making claims patently false and doing so simply to make people angry. When actually they are making themselves look deranged and snarky. Frequently, to emphasize how much they want to agitate people, they will resort to capitalizing numerous strings of words to appear as if they are shouting and to imply as if capitalization somehow makes a lie truthful.