Republicans are attacking President Barack Obama this week for a few lines out of his speech in Roanoke on Friday.
Here’s a clip of the speech snippet from GOPRapidResponse, followed by comments from Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
Via his campaign, here’s what Romney had to say about that:
“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, you go on the list, that Joe and his colleagues didn’t build this enterprise, to say something like that is not just foolishness, it is insulting to every entrepreneur, every innovator in America and it’s wrong. And by the way, 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 like this and a gas service business like this, it also extends to everybody in America that wants to lift themself up a little further, that goes back to school to get a degree and see if they can get a little better job, to somebody who wants to get some new skills and get a little higher income, to somebody who have may have dropped out that decides to get back in school and go for it. People who reach to try and lift themself up. The President would say, well you didn’t do that. You couldn’t have gotten to school without the roads that government built for you. You couldn’t have gone to school without teachers. So you are not responsible for that success. President Obama attacks success and therefore under President Obama we have less success and I will change that. I’ve got to be honest, I don’t think anyone could have said what he said who had actually started a business or been in a business. And my own view is that what the President said was both startling and revealing. I find it extraordinary that a philosophy of that nature would be spoken by a President of the United States.”
But did Obama actually tell people they didn’t build their own businesses?
Technically speaking — no.
Even in the video above, it’s apparent that the president is saying that business owners didn’t build the roads and bridges that support commerce. Obama is effectively paraphrasing portions of remarks made last fall by Elizabeth Warren, a candidate for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts.
Here’s the transcript of that portion of Obama’s speech in Roanoke for the full context:
look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. (Applause.)
If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. 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.
So we say to ourselves, ever since the founding of this country, you know what, there are some things we do better together. That’s how we funded the GI Bill. That’s how we created the middle class. That’s how we built the Golden Gate Bridge or the Hoover Dam. That’s how we invented the Internet. That’s how we sent a man to the moon. We rise or fall together as one nation and as one people, and that’s the reason I’m running for President — because I still believe in that idea. You’re not on your own, we’re in this together.
To be fair, Obama’s not the only one being taken out of context. Earlier this year you may have heard about Romney’s comment that “I’m not concerned about the very poor.” That too was a soundbite taken out of context from his greater remarks.
If you hear Obama or Romney quoted in a short snippet saying something outrageous, it’s a good idea to go try to find the transcript when possible. They very well may have said something outrageous — and I’m sure there are readers here outraged even by the full context of Obama’s remarks — but reading the framing material may help provide a fuller picture.
After the jump, you can find video of C-SPAN’s footage of the president’s Roanoke appearance, as well as Romney’s remarks.
– Mason Adams