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Obama spokeswoman: Romney joke latest in 'pattern' of 'gutterball politics'

"This is the kind of gutterball politics that will and should turn the American people off," Psaki told MSNBC. "This is a pattern. Mitt Romney has questioned repeatedly over the last several months whether the president understands America, whether he understands freedom — he's wrapped his arms around Donald Trump, one of the originators of the birther movement, so we've seen a pattern here."

Earlier Friday, Romney joked about the controversy surrounding the president's birth certificate during a campaign stop in Michigan.

"Now I love being home in this place where Ann and I were raised, where both of us were born. Ann was born in Henry Ford Hospital. I was born in Harper Hospital," Romney said.

"No one's ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place that we were born and raised."

Romney aides quickly looked to downplay the remark, insisting their candidate did not mean to question the president's birthplace.

"The governor has always said, and has repeatedly said, he believes the president was born here in the United States. He was only referencing that Michigan, where he is campaigning today, is the state where he himself was born and raised," a Romney spokesman said.

But Psaki ripped into that rebuttal, looking to turn past Romney complaints about the tenor of the campaign against the Republican.

"This is the same guy who said he wanted to raise the rhetoric of this campaign, wanted to have a debate about policy, and we just haven't seen that at all from his team," Psaki said.

Host Andrea Mitchell asked Psaki how Romney's comments differed in substance from a recent quip by Obama on a now infamous incident where Romney strapped the family dog, suffering from diarrhea, to the roof of the family car. Obama made the joke while challenging Romney's assertion that “You can’t drive a car with a windmill on it.”

“Now,” the president said. “I don’t know if he’s actually tried that. I know he’s had other things on his car.”

Psaki defended the comment as a fleeting moment during a substantive discussion.

"It was a light moment in a longer speech about the wind energy tax credit and how important that is for jobs in Iowa, jobs in Colorado. ... It was a short light moment in an otherwise substantive policy speech that was laying out the substantive choice in the election," Psaki said. "It was really nothing more than that."

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