GOP: Obama's 'You Didn't Build That' Will Take Us to November

By: Jim Saunders News Service of Florida | Posted: August 30, 2012 3:55 AM
We Built It
It was one line --- a total of nine words --- in a lengthy speech in Roanoke, Va.

As he tried to make a point that successful people have received help in various ways, President Obama said, "If you've got a business --- you didn't build that."

But more than a month later, with Republicans rallying in Tampa at their national convention, that line has become a centerpiece of the GOP's campaign to try to oust Obama in November.

Speaker after speaker has portrayed the line as an affront to people who have built businesses and as evidence that the Democratic president is focused on big government instead of free enterprise. Republican leaders went so far as to give Tuesday night's convention session the theme, "We Built It."

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said Wednesday that the GOP will continue to focus on the issue until the November election as it tries to draw distinctions between Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney. He said many voters understand that small-businesspeople "pour blood, sweat and tears" into making their ventures succeed.

"When the president said, 'you didn't build that,' it touched a central nerve that resonated with far more Americans than just the ones who attend the Republican convention,'' Putnam said.

But the Obama campaign has argued that Romney took the line out of context to distort Obama's record. It said on its website last month that the Roanoke speech was a defense of public investment in infrastructure.

"Romney can try to manipulate those words into a political attack, but the facts belie the smear: President Obama has continuously fought to help small businesses grow by cutting their taxes and making it easier for them to invest in American jobs," the campaign said.

According to a White House transcript of Obama's speech, here is the portion that created the controversy:

"If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help,'' Obama said. "There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business --- you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn't get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

"The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don't do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires."

The GOP's attempt to seize on the statement is part of a broader campaign narrative that includes calling for reduced business regulations and shrinking the size of government. Republicans hope to convince voters that Romney, a successful businessman, is better prepared than Obama to improve the economy and to tackle issues such as federal budget deficits.

Linda Ivell, a Republican state committeewoman and Realtor from Lakeland, said entrepreneurs and small-business people create jobs. She said when she heard Obama's statement, "I thought, 'That, in a nutshell, is the difference between Republicans and Democrats. ' "

Republicans have regularly raised the issue during speeches at the convention. As an example, Romney's son, Craig, targeted Obama's statement Wednesday during a breakfast appearance before Florida delegates, saying it showed the president had never built a business.

But in the information posted on its website last month, the Obama campaign accused Mitt Romney of deciding to "selectively edit President Obama to make it appear like the president was insulting small businesses." It also went on to say that Obama is "committed to building an economy that invests in education, infrastructure, and innovation alongside strong business growth."

Putnam, however, disputed the argument that Romney and other Republicans have taken the Obama statement out of context.

"Taken out of context is usually code for, 'I wish I hadn't said that,' '' Putnam said.

Comments (7)

5:46PM AUG 30TH 2012
As a patriotic American, yes I must come to the defense of this great country of our. God's country and heaven for the oppressed. People from all over the world come here because America is safe and the freedom enjoyed here. Most people come here with good ideas and to make it come through, they get help from the American Government either through Small Business Loan Bank (SBL). Veteran get backed home loans by the Govt. Businessmen like Trump file for business restructure when their businesses are not doing well. Only in America! They passed the tap to the Govt. Now are you gonna tell me you did not get uncle Sam's help somewhere along the way. Please do no bite the fingers that fed you. Be greatful to America because somewhere down the way you got help. Please stop beating up on our great country because America always helped either to start your doughnut shop or lawnmower business. That is the reason America is the beacon to all nations. God Bless America and Long Life USA.
11:14AM AUG 30TH 2012
President Obama in Roanoke Virginia July 13, 2012 ‘If You’ve Got a Business — You Didn’t Build That. Obama to Joe the Plumber, “I want to spread the wealth around.” Obama: “I chose my friends carefully. The more politically active black students, the foreign students, the Chicanos, the Marxist professors." ~ Barack Obama (Dreams From My Father.) Obama movie 2016: Commie mother, commie father, commie grandparents, commie mentor, commie friends ...... commie Barack. Not too difficult to figure this out.
Election2012 Capitalism or Socialism. Your choice.
11:24AM AUG 30TH 2012
Yes, building a Republican campaign on multiple lies - politics of the "Big Lie".

Why can't you guys lie more convincingly? You do it so poorly that it's laughable, and you keep doing it over and over and over, and using the same terms - can't you come up with any better demonizations than "Commie", "Marxist", and "Socialist"? Oh, that's right, some of you have, putting the President in New Guinea witch doctor garb with a bone through his nose, or in Joker makeup.

So, let me modify - politics of the "Big Lie" . . . and Blatant Racism. Your choice.
8:31AM AUG 30TH 2012
Obama's comment really meant that your business is not really your business and you must surrender whatever I think is your fair share.
11:27AM AUG 30TH 2012
Guess that's why it has been rated "pants on fire false" by PolitiFact and given four Pinocchio noses by the Washington Post, among many others.

Yes, Republicans building their campaign on more politics of the "Big Lie".

Don't you think that those who repeat known lies should be considered as known liars?

John Paul Jones
3:09PM AUG 30TH 2012
So Frank, if Politifact tells you that up is down, and 1 is 2 you would probably quote them here as fact I suppose. Everyone here has heard all of Obama's speech; not just the accurate "you didn't build that" line. The context clarifies that Obama meant just what Romney and Ryan are saying. I really think you are on the verge of an emotional breakdown. Do yourself a favor and take a break from babbling about every single article on SSN every single day. I find your posts entertaining though I don't have time in my day to respond to them all. I hope you get paid to do this because otherwise you are really making yourself angry for nothing and wasting a lot of your life away.

Obama tried and he failed. If you can blame Bush for any of the problems that existed when Obama took office, then you MUST blame Obama for the lack of progress since he took office. Don't drive yourself insane trying to defend him by concocting your "Big Lie" meme or by calling everyone who criticizes Obama a racist. Those rants have no merits and only make you look small.

Beat Army!
3:42PM AUG 30TH 2012
"Big Lie" designation is called for when lies are used for political purposes, like the well misused "you didn't build that" line (and only partisan serial liars continue to ignore that use of the lie is wrong and keep repeating it, hoping it will be believed by repeated use).

Racist statements deserve a racist label, nothing less.

As to commenting on this web site, when I started we had some folks promotiing race wars and outright bigotry. Some of that has disappeared, and when others promote crazy legal concepts like Constitutional Nullification or weird conspiracy theories like UN takeover of the U.S. through Agenda 21, well, I'll have a few cutting comments to straighten that out for anyone who has an open mind to listen to legitimate dialogue. So I'll put up with those few partisan unmovable minds like yours that can't be further educated and just plain deny reality and facts. It's become very apparent that far right partisans can't stand having their lies exposed for the lies they are.

Beat Navy!

Leave a Comment on This Story

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.