Mitt Romney, under pressure to take a position after Donald Trump attempted reopening the "birther" controversy with recent inflammatory comments, has said he would stick with Trump because he needs the help of "a lot of good people" to win the election.
According to AP, Romney, in an argument critics say reflects his "etch-a-sketch" political character, said: "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. But I need to get 50.1 percent or more and I'm appreciative to have the help of a lot of good people."
Trump sparked off the birther controversy in the media in 2011, with the allegation that Obama might not have been born in the United States. In an NBC-TV interview broadcast April 7, 2011, Trump said he was not satisfied that Obama had proven his citizenship. He claimed that he had sent researchers to Hawaii to investigate the matter of Obama's citizenship status and commented, "they cannot believe what they're finding."
The controversy he provoked culminated in Obama releasing a copy of his long-form birth certificate. But, according to Digital Journal, the controversy was re-ignited after Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona alleged the certificate was computer forgery. Digital Journal reports that Trump appears bent on fully reviving the controversy with recent remarks that Obama was born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia.
According to Digital Journal, Trump, in an interview with the The Daily Beast on Friday, said:“Look, it’s very simple. He said he was born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia... Now they’re saying it was a mistake. Just like his Kenyan grandmother said he was born in Kenya, and she pointed down the road to the hospital, and after people started screaming at her she said, ‘Oh, I mean Hawaii.’ Give me a break.”
Romney made a half-hearted attempt to distance himself from Trump's birther comments, but according to The Huffington Post, he stopped short of reprimanding Trump or breaking ties with him. Digital Journal reports that later on Friday, Romney's adviser Eric Fehrnstrom, seeking to distance Romney from Trump's statement, told CNN that Romney "accepts that President Obama was born in the United States."
According to CNN, Romney has said in the past that he believes Obama was born in Hawaii and that he believes that he is constitutionally eligible to be president. CNN reports that when Romney was later asked on his charter plane whether he was bothered about Trump's promotion of the birther conspiracy, he explained that "getting 50.1 percent" was more important to him.
CBS News reports that Romney adviser Kevin Madden, said that Romney disagrees with Trump on the birther issue but would continue to campaign with him. Madden said: "He'll stand up next to Donald Trump and he'll talk about why he wants to be president. Any time the subject goes off of that, where it's something where... Governor Romney would disagree, he's going to make that very clear. Just as he has in the past, and he'll do in the present, and he'll do in the future."
According to CBS News, Obama campaign press secretary Ben LaBolt, has criticized Romney campaign, saying, "I could put the president's birth certificate on my forehead and Mr. Trump wouldn't accept that the president was born here in the United States. It raises a question that's come up before during this campaign as to whether Governor Romney will embrace the extreme voices in his party or stand up to them."
Fehrnstrom, according to Fox8, quoted a statement by one of Obama's top aide to effect that candidates cannot be held responsible for what their supporters believe or say: “You know, not too long ago, Jay Carney, the spokesman for the White House made a statement which I think is correct, and that statement was that a candidate can’t be responsible for everything that their supporters say. And in this case, Mitt Romney has made it clear that the place of the president’s birth is not an issue for him. He accepts the fact that he was born in Hawaii. And we have many important challenges facing our country, and that’s what we’d rather talk about.”
CNN reports that Trump will join Romney and former presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, for a campaign fund-raiser in Las Vegas on Tuesday. Romney's campaign, according to CNN, is also raffling a chance to have dinner with Trump for supporters who donate $3 to the campaign.
According to CNN, the Romney campaign offers "Airport transportation in the Trump vehicle; Stay at the Trump International Hotel & Tower New York; Tour the Celebrity Apprentice Boardroom; Dine with Donald Trump and Mitt Romney."
Digital Journal observes that Romney has been doing a delicate balancing act to avoid alienating the conservative base of the Republican party that is the stronghold of the birther movement. According to National Journal's Ron Brownstein, “Mitt Romney throughout the entire primary season has shown very little willingness to confront the right... Romney has just seemed to be spooked throughout the whole process at the thought that the right will mobilize against him.”