Obama Responds To Misquotations By Romney

There are two schools of thought about handling an untrue attack–ignoring it or responding to it. The down side to responding to an attack is that often doing so leads to more people hearing the attack than originally heard it. In the past it might have been better to ignore some attacks, but in the age of twenty-four hour right wing “news” and the internet, an attack which is ignored will only continue to spread. The Obama campaign must have finally decided that attacks on Obama based upon misquoting his comment on small business are doing harm, and finally decided to respond.

Obama was repeating a basic fact about economics–businesses benefit from government infrastructure such as roads and bridge. Businessmen did not build these. Nor did they build the internet, utilities, educational systems, and other government services which are helpful to their business. Republicans have been distorting Obama’s statement to claim he was saying that businessmen did not create their own business–a complete fabrication.

Yesterday I pointed out that Mitt Romney has made a comment analogous to Obama’s in the past–not that it is any surprise to see Mitt Romney take both sides of any issue. In addition a fact checker noted that Romney’s attacks are untrue, and it was even discovered that a spokesman in a Romney ad attacking Obama over the distorted quote has received direct government benefits for his business.

Today Obama has responded:

At a campaign fundraising event in Oakland, Calif., Obama hit back at Romney for “splicing and dicing” his words. “I believe with all my heart that it is the drive and the ingenuity of Americans who start businesses that lead to their success. I always have and I always will,” he said.

This morning, Obama’s deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter “debunks distortions” and defends the Obama record on small business in a new video.

Stephanie Cutter also pointed out that this is not the first time Romney has distorted Obama’s words, and it won’t be the last:

The “you didn’t build that” meme has been exposed as a lie. On the other hand, the memes that Romney repeatedly lies about Obama’s positions, and  takes both sides of virtually any issue, have been demonstrated to be true once again.

Three Strikes Against Romney’s Lie About Obama And Small Business

Lacking legitimate arguments against Obama from the right, Mitt Romney and other conservatives have concentrated on fabricating attacks against Obama for views he does not actually hold. The latest attacks, based upon twisting a comment from Obama to give it a quite different meaning, is beginning to backfire against Romney. While Obama  spoke about the benefits to businessmen from government infrastructure they did not build, such as the roads and bridges, Republicans twisted this into a ridiculous statement that businessmen did not build the businesses which they created. Conservatives, who believe a Randian fantasy about the economy and are often ignorant of how a market economy actually works, have been easily fooled into believing the claims from the right.

Obama’s statement should actually not be controversial at all. It is such common sense that people receive some benefits from others that even Mitt Romney expressed a similar view talking to Olympians in 2002:

“You Olympians, however, know you didn’t get here solely on your own power,” said Romney, who on Friday will attend the Opening Ceremonies of this year’s Summer Olympics. “For most of you, loving parents, sisters or brothers, encouraged your hopes, coaches guided, communities built venues in order to organize competitions. All Olympians stand on the shoulders of those who lifted them. We’ve already cheered the Olympians, let’s also cheer the parents, coaches, and communities. All right! [pumps fist].”

This no more reduces respect for the accomplishments of the Olympians than Obama’s statement shows any lack of respect for the accomplishments of creators of small businesses.

The second embarrassment for Romney is that the businessman in an ad promoting the attack on Obama turned out to have received government assistance even beyond government roads and bridges:

HE GOT HELP. In the Mitt Romney campaign web and television ads that received national attention last week, a blunt Jack Gilchrist of Gilchrist Metal Fabricating in Hudson tells President Barack Obama that he, his father and his son _ and not the government _ built his company.

But as it turns out, Gilchrist did receive some government help for his business, albeit a long time ago.

In 1999, Gilchrist Metal received $800,000 in tax-exempt revenue bonds issued by the New Hampshire Business Finance Authority “to set up a second manufacturing plant and purchase equipment to produce high definition television broadcasting equipment,” according to a New Hampshire Union Leader report at the time.

The federal government allocates to each state a certain amount of tax-exempt bonding capacity each year for business and housing loans.

Because the bond buyers do not pay federal taxes on the interest, the interest rate for the borrower is typically lower than that of standard bank financing.

Last year, Gilchrist Metal also received two U.S. Navy sub-contracts totaling about $83,000 and a smaller, $5,600 Coast Guard contract in 2008, according to a government web site that tracks spending.

The Romney camp released a web ad featuring Jack Gilchrist last Thursday after Obama had said a week earlier that “if you were successful, you didn’t get there on your own” and added, “If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help.”

Finally, even Glenn Kessler of The Washington Post, who has previously taken the Romney line even when his own newspaper showed that he was wrong, has finally done some fact checking on this Romney lie:

The biggest problem with Romney’s ad is that it leaves out just enough chunks of Obama’s words — such as a reference to “roads and bridges”— so that it sounds like Obama is attacking individual initiative. The ad deceivingly cuts away from Obama speaking in order to make it seem as if the sentences follow one another, when in fact eight sentences are snipped away.

Suddenly, the word “that” appears as if it is referring to a business, rather than (apparently) to roads and bridges…

Romney, however, descends into silly season when he extrapolates Obama’s quote and says that means Obama believes Steve Jobs did not build Apple Computers.

Here’s what Obama said when Jobs passed away earlier this year: “By building one of the planet’s most successful companies from his garage, he exemplified the spirit of American ingenuity. By making computers personal and putting the Internet in our pockets, he made the information revolution not only accessible, but intuitive and fun.”

That sounds like Obama believes that Jobs really did build his company. He did not mention the roads to Cupertino.