Marketplace Logo Donate

Daily business news and economic stories from Marketplace

GOP pounces on Obama comment

Subscribe to our Newsletters

Republicans and conservative super PACs have pounced on President Barack Obama’s July 13 comment at an event in Virginia: “If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that.”

Thursday’s ad from American Crossroads, the football-themed “Replay,” hammers home their talking point: that Obama believes small business owners didn’t build their businesses on their own.

The super PAC’s July 24 ad “Build” also uses the quote, as has the Mitt Romney campaign and other GOP candidates. The Republican National Committee’s video “The More Context You Get, the Worse It Sounds” also takes advantage of the admittedly artless quote.

But in fact, the more context you “get,” the more holes show up in the argument.

Obama’s speech on July 13 focused on government investments — in infrastructure, public schools and research. He talked about the investors, the educators and the inventors that underlie the American economy.

It becomes clear with context that Obama is not dismissing the effort of business owners: “The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together,” Obama said seconds after the “you didn’t build that” comment.

But the ads show the quote as a stand-alone; no context is provided. The Romney campaign goes so far as to play the statement on a loop for 15 seconds in an online video. and The Washington Post’s The Fact Checker have both concluded that the quote is out of context and misleading, and the Obama campaign pushed back with “Tampered” on July 23 to criticize the ads for misrepresenting what he said.

Nonetheless, the quote survives. On Wednesday, the Romney campaign held events featuring local business owners in 24 states with the slogan, “We did build this.”

American Crossroads, responsible for the newest ad repeating the quote, is one of the best-funded super PACs in the country, finishing June with $31.5 million in cash on hand. Its top funders include businessman Harold Simmons and his company Contran Corp., Texas homebuilder Bob Perry, and former Univision owner Jerry Perenchio.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the country’s largest — and nominally bipartisan — business association, launched a series of ads Wednesday night opposing Democratic candidates:

In other outside spending news:

What's Next

Latest Episodes From Our Shows

10:00 AM PDT
7:50 AM PDT
7:31 AM PDT
2:39 AM PDT
Sep 28, 2022
Sep 28, 2022
Aug 9, 2022
Exit mobile version