Mitt Romney forcefully said Tuesday night that he believes President Barack Obama was born in America and that “the citizenship test has been passed.”
“I think the citizenship test has been passed. I believe the president was born in the United States. There are real reasons to get this guy out of office,” Romney told CNBC’s Larry Kudlow the day after he formally announced that he’s exploring a run for the White House. “The man needs to be taken out of office but his citizenship isn’t the reason why.”
Kudlow asked Romney about the issue because Donald Trump – the billionaire real estate mogul – has been all over TV questioning whether Obama was really born in in the United States and is therefore constitutionally allowed to hold the nation’s highest office. Trump’s claims have driven the “birther” issue back into the national spotlight – and a recent Fox News poll found that 24 percent of voters believe Obama wasn’t born in the United States, while 10 percent aren’t sure.
In the wide-ranging interview with Kudlow – Romney’s first TV appearance and press interview since announcing his exploratory committee – the former Masachusetts governor stood up for his record on health care, taxes and other issues.
Despite Kudlow’s often combative questioning, Romney stuck relentlessly to his economy-and-job-creation message, refusing to criticize Ben Bernanke even as the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy has become a frequent target on the right.
“I think Ben Bernanke is a student of monetary policy; he’s doing as good a job as he thinks he can do,” Romney said when Kudlow asked what kind of job Bernanke is doing. “I’m not going to spend my time going after Ben Bernanke. I’m not going to spend my time focusing on the Federal Reserve.”
Kudlow’s tough questioning on health care came on the five-year anniversary of Romney’s enactment of a sweeping overhaul in Massachusetts. Democrats have been holding celebratory parties and events to “thank” Romney for enacting what they call a model for national reform.
“I’m very happy that the Democrats are celebrating,” Romney said. “Not one Democrat called me and said, ‘OK, what did you do in Massachusetts, what would you do again, what would you do differently?’
“I would have said what you’re putting in place in the nation is unconstitutional, it’s bad law, it will not work,” he added.
Romney again offered what has become his standard defense of the plan: “One thing I learned is this, which is that you don’t take ideas from a state and try to impose them on a whole nation.”