Obama Campaign Pounces on Matt Romney Joke as Evidence Father Pandering to 'Dead-Ender Fringe Extremists'

In a fundraising email, Obama 2012 campaign manager Jim Messina pounced like a jungle cat on a remark made by Mitt Romney's son Matt, 40, seeking to paint his father as appealing to extreme elements.

"Friend," wrote Messina in a mass email to supporters, "You've got to hear this. Asked at a Romney campaign event whether his father would follow decades of precedent and release his tax returns, Mitt Romney's adult son Matt quoted the most recent Tea Party line, saying: '… As soon as President Obama releases his grades, and birth certificate, and sort of a long list of things, then maybe he will.'"

Asserted Messina, "This is how the Romney campaign thinks it's going to win the Republican primary: by pandering to the dead-ender fringe of extremists who still question where the President was born. We can't make them rewrite their talking points. But we can drive up the cost of this kind of politics."

Earlier today Matt Romney made the remark in New Hampshire, as posted in video by the Concord, NH Patch site,  saying that he had "heard someone suggest the other day that" when President Obama released that information then his father would release his tax returns.

Matt Romney, the 2nd of the five Romney boys, soon tweeted somewhat apologetically: "I repeated a dumb joke. My bad."

Neither President Obama nor Mitt Romney has released college grades. Then-Senator Obama released his tax returns mid-way through the Democratic primary process, in March 2008; Romney has refused to do so.

As for his birth certificate, the president released it in short-form as a candidate three years ago and in long form in April.

Romney himself has yet to release his birth certificate. Earlier this year, Boston Globe columnist Joan Vennochi recalled the run-around  the Romney campaign gave her when pursuing his birth certificate. There remains apparently some mystery about whether the candidate's name is Willard Mitt Romney or Willard Milton Romney.

Messina reminded supporters in his email that the campaign sells "Made in the USA mugs that have the President's birth certificate printed right on them - in case anyone else says they've never seen it."

-Jake Tapper