During a recent campaign stop for Minnesota Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, former President Barack Obama joked about the racist “Birtherism” conspiracy theory popularized by former President Donald Trump, in which Trump made baseless, racist claims that Obama was not a legitimate American citizen and demanded he show his birth certificate to the world.
Obama was campaigning for Barnes, the Democratic Party nominee challenging for the Senate seat of Republican Ron Johnson.
Barnes is Black and has been targeted by racist Republican campaign.
“I know that there are some folks, probably maybe not in this auditorium, but elsewhere in Wisconsin, who think — and I know these ads are running this way — but just because Mandela’s named Mandela, just because he is a Democrat with a funny name, he must not be like you, he must not share your values. I mean, we’ve seen this. It sounds pretty familiar, doesn’t it?”
The former Democratic President continued, joking:
“So Mandela, get ready to dig up that birth certificate. Remember when that — that’s the good old days. Remember when that was the craziest thing people said? Think about that. Like, that wasn’t that long ago, everybody was like, ‘that is some crazy stuff.’ Now, it doesn’t even make it to the top ten list of crazy.”
In a race that is a key to deciding which party will have control of the Senate after next week’s midterms, polls show Johnson with a small lead over Barnes. A Fox News poll published on Tuesday found that 48% of respondents said they’ll vote for Johnson in next week’s election, with 45% of those surveyed saying they support Barnes.