Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) on Sunday asserted that presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney was sending "coded messages" and pandering to white voters by making jokes suggesting that President Barack Obama was not a U.S. citizen.
Speaking to a large crowd of supporters in Michigan on Friday, Romney had come the closest yet to personally embracing the so-called birther movement’s theory that President Barack Obama was not born in the U.S.
“No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate,” the former Massachusetts governor said. “They know that this is the place that we were born and raised.”
On Sunday, O'Malley told CNN's Candy Crowley that Americans watching the Republican National Convention would be able to clearly see that Republicans were the "party of exclusion."
"The Republicans have kind of painted themselves into a real demographic corner," he explained. "And you hear people like even Jeb Bush saying that they have to change for the long term because this view of white, Anglo-Saxon Americans -- 'I'm a true American, no one questions where I was born' -- sort of thing is really off-putting to those of us who believe that our diversity is our strength."
"Can't you just take Mitt Romney at his word, he was joking?" Crowley asked. "What is so wrong with that? Have we lost -- quote -- our sense of humor, as [RNC Chairman Reince Priebus] suggested?"
"When you have policies, when you advance positions that are bashing of new Americans and new immigrants, when you have policies that want to take us back in terms of women's rights and freedom of women to choose, I think it becomes a very exclusive party," O'Malley insisted. "And that birther comment is simply more icing on that cake."
He continued: "The birther comment, when you combine it with Mitt Romney's other comments, comments he made abroad about the president not truly appreciating -- when he was in England -- the Anglo-Saxon perspective in the world, when you put it together with his anti-immigrant policies and the things that he has said, I think that what it reveals is sort of a perspective on America that would take us back to the days of [1950s sitcom] Ozzie and Harriet."
"Is that code for you think he's appealing to the white vote?" Crowley wondered.
"Look at the number of Republicans that have signed bills that make it harder to vote," the Maryland governor replied. "When you have a party that says coded things, that makes totally false ads up about saying the president is trying to undo welfare reform, I think you're going to see a lot of pretty heavily and not-so-subtly coded messages from the Romney-Ryan campaign that it is not in keeping an America with that is moving forward, that is growing, that is becoming more diverse with fuller freedoms for every individual."
(h/t: Talking Points Memo)