Critics are jumping all over Mitt Romney’s Michigan stump-speech birther “joke” as if it’s the first unguided missile that ever left the Republican presidential candidate’s mouth. But Romney has a long history of campaign-trail remarks that have left listeners wondering if he’s from another planet. Here are five of dumbest:
1. The Birther Joke
He said what? “I love being home, in this place where Ann and I were raised. Where both of us were born…No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know this is the place where we were born and raised.”
Why was it dumb? Nothing will make campaign journalists drool all over their keyboards in excitement like a joke referencing the birther movement.
He said what? “I met a guy yesterday, 7 feet tall, handsome, great big guy…I figured he had to be in sport, but he wasn’t in sport. His business is caring for seniors.”
Why was it dumb? Besides the fact that this story is one phrase (“and then I found $10”) away from something your senile great aunt might say, Romney’s anachronistic use of “sport” makes little sense. In American English, “sports” replaced the use of “sport” in the mid-20th century. Is this something Romney picked up from the French?
3. NASCAR Owners
He said what? Asked if he followed NASCAR racing, he replied: “Not as closely as some of the most ardent fans, but I have some great friends who are NASCAR team owners.”
Why was it dumb? The reporter gave Romney an easy opportunity to relate to sports fans. But Romney inadvertently took the chance to remind his constituents that they are not like him. As The Nation‘s Ari Melber tweeted in parody: “Do I like movies? Well I have some friends that own movie companies…”
4. The Cadillacs
He said what? “Ann drives a couple of Cadillacs, actually.”
Why was it dumb? Romney was trying to show Detroit that his connections to Michigan run deep, and he drives American cars. Instead, Romney told a city that has faced decades of hard times that he and his wife, Ann, roll in luxury—two deep.
5. The Trees Are the Right Height
He said what? “It seems right here, the trees are the right height…I like seeing the lakes. I love the lakes. There’s something very special here.”
Why was it dumb? Romney is doing his darndest to show enthusiasm for his native Michigan, but something about the phrasing seems a bit off. Maybe it’s the fact that he sounds like he could be a character in the movie Anchorman (“Do you really love the lamp, or are you just saying it because you saw it?”) Or maybe it’s because Romney has actually used this lame speech multiple times on the trail.