President Barack Obama‘s campaign officials are trying to minimize the damage caused by his campaign-trail comments that downplayed entrepreneurship.
The push-back came midday when Obama’s press secretary, Ben LaBolt, tweeted out that “Romney apparently set to launch false attack. … Get the facts.”
LaBolt was trying to head off Romney’s new focus on Obama’s July 14 speech where he argued that entrepreneurs are dependent on government for success.
“If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen,” Obama told the crowd, while urging tax increases and a larger role for government.
Romney’s strongest response came shortly after LaBolt’s tweet.
“I’m convinced he wants Americans to be ashamed of success … [but] I don’t want government to take credit for what individuals accomplish,” Romney told a cheering crowd in swing-state Pennsylvania.
“The idea to say that Steve Jobs didn’t build Apple, that Henry Ford didn’t build Ford Motor, that Papa John didn’t build Papa John Pizza, that Ray Kroc didn’t build McDonald’s, that Bill Gates didn’t build Microsoft … is not just foolishness, it is insulting to every entrepreneur,” Romney told the July 17 crowd in Irwin, Pa.
Romney extended his pro-business criticism of Obama into an ideological argument against progressives’ claim that their experts should guide the economy.
“The president’s logic doesn’t just extend to the entrepreneurs that start a barber shop or a taxi operation or an oil field service business,” he said.
It “extends to everybody in America that wants to lift themself up … [because] the president would say, ‘Well, you didn’t do that’ [and] ‘you couldn’t have gotten to school without the roads that government built for you … so you are not responsible for that success.'”
LaBolt’s defense relied on an article at a left-of-center website, Talking Points Memo, which paired Obama’s comments with similar comments from Elizabeth Warren, the progressive running for a Senate seat in Massachusetts.
Obama’s comment “sounds pretty bad — and it is, if you leave out the sentences directly before and after,” said the TPM article.
But “Obama wasn’t talking about building businesses at all. … [Obama] referred to roads, bridges, infrastructure, education, emergency services and law and order — all services that protect and enable business owners along the way toward creating a successful operation,” read the TPM article.
“This isn’t a new argument. … Obama himself used a version of it countless times in his stump speech [as did] Elizabeth Warren, now running for Senate in Massachusetts,” said the TPM article cited by LaBolt.
Watch Romney’s comments: