Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks Friday during a campaign rally in Commerce Township. / Kimberly P. Mitchell/Detroit Free Press
COMMERCE, MI (AP) -- Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney Friday raised the discredited rumor that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States and thus ineligible to be president.
The presumptive GOP nominee, joined for a rally outside Detroit Friday by running mate Paul Ryan, joked that he had been born in a nearby hospital and that "no one's ever asked to see my birth certificate. "
Obama has been dogged throughout his presidency by question about his birthplace. He released a long form copy of his birth certificate last year, showing he was born in Hawaii in 1961.
Romney grew up in Michigan and his father, George Romney was a popular governor of the state.
COMMERCE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (Detroit Free Press) -- Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney returned to his native Michigan Friday to give nearly 10,000 people a preview of the message he'll deliver at the GOP national convention in Tampa next week.
"I'm told the weather may be a little iffy there," he said, referring to Hurricane Isaac, which is bearing down on South Florida. "We're not going to talk about just platitudes. We're going to be talking about these big challenges, the soul of America and what makes this country unique and exceptional. Our way forward is the only way forward."
The rally on the Long Family Farm in Commerce, owned by County Commissioner Chris Long, featured U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan's first visit to the state since being named Romney's running mate
He took his time to bash President Barack Obama, recalling the comments he made in 2008 about people clinging to their guns and religion.
"This Catholic deer hunter is guilty as charged and proud of it," Ryan said. "The President can't run on his failed record of leadership, so he's going to try and divide us."
Romney also slammed Obama while reveling in his return to the state where he was born and grew up.
"Nobody asks for my birth certificate," he said. "Everyone knows I was born and raised here. It feels like coming home to this beautiful state."
He did take time to outline his plan to restore the country's economy, including a five-point plan to: take full advantage of all America's energy resources; put an emphasis on job training skills for kids in schools "not union bosses;" crack down on trade cheaters in places like China; balance the budget and cut the deficit to zero and championing small business by revamping regulation.
"And we've got to remove that big cloud ... repeal and replace Obamacare," Romney said. "If we do those five things ... you're going to see America come charging back."
A small crowd of protesters yelled "Romney go home" on the periphery of the rally and a small airplane circled the farm hauling a banner that read: "Sign of a Wimp: Dodging Akin question," referring to the controversy surrounding Missouri Republican Todd Akin, a Republican running for the U.S. Senate.
Democratic Party chairman Mark Brewer said Romney should have apologized to the crowd, for not supporting the federal bailout of the auto industry, for his running mate's call for a partial privatization of Social Security and Medicare. "And it's real said to hear that he's now be become a birther too" Brewer said.
But the crowd inside was all about the Romney/Ryan ticket.
"We like his values and his attitude toward business," said Ed Ford, 80, of Milford. "And we've got to get rid of Obama."
"He's been in the real world," added Doug Brining, 73, of South Lyon. "He's just a great guy."
The Romney campaign and emergency medical services had a hard time keeping up with the fall out of the blazing sun. Several people were carted out on stretchers after fainting from being in the 82-degree weather without any shade or relief from the sun. And campaign volunteers hurried to pass water to the thirsty crowd.
A recent WZZM 13/Glengariff Group Inc., Presidential Poll, showed Romney nearly tied with President Obama in the three counties making up Metro Detroit. The President overwhelmingly favored to win in the City of Detroit.