Steffen Schmidt, IAFC Blogger
Steffen W. Schmidt, University Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at Iowa State University, WNYC blogger, and chief Political correspondent of Insider Iowa.
Jobs, Medicare, tax returns, and Mitt Romney jokes in Michigan about himself and his wife, “No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place where both of us were born and raised.”
Granted, Mr. Romney has said he believes Barak Obama is an American and was born in Hawaii. He says that when asked. However the questions about Obama and his background (and religion – is he a Muslim?) are a powerful source of mockery for Republicans.
After rumors that Donald Trump is planning some sort of spectacular media event in Tampa during the GOP convention, a Republicans friend of mine said he heard Trump was going to reveal “evidence” that Obama is not a born citizen and therefore not a legal President. Rumor has it that Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, both strident anti illegal immigration advocates will join him.
Reminding people that Obama has a complicated background and that there have been doubts about where he was born is a terrific indirect way of raising the issue of race without actually mentioning his blackness. It’s really a sorry state of affairs in a year when the level of campaign negativity is already at an all time high to continue dragging these distractions into the race.
I fear that it may become tempting for the Democrats to bring up Romney’s religion, which is to the GOP contender what race and citizenship is to Obama. Mormonism is still mystifying to many Americans and its practices are by no means acceptable or accepted by a wide swath of U.S. voters.
When we discussed this, one of my friends joked that Obama should say, “A reporter asked me this week what kind of underwear I prefer. I wear Fruit of the Loom boxers. I’m not sure what kind of underwear Mr. Romney wears."