After two weeks of political fallout over his comments that self-made entrepreneurs aren't entirely responsible for their own success, President Obama is amplifying previous attempts to clarify the remarks with a new ad accusing Republicans of taking his quotes out of context.
In the 30-second spot titled "Always," Mr. Obama responds to a torrent of criticism and attacks from GOP presidential nominee-in-waiting Mitt Romney over comments the president made during a campaign stop July 13 in Roanoke, Va., that implied that entrepreneurs don't deserve all the credit for their own success.
"Those ads taking my words about small business out of context. They're flat-out wrong. Of course Americans build their own businesses," he says solemnly in the ad. "Every day, hard-working people sacrifice to meet a payroll, create jobs and make our economy run."
"What I said was, we need to stand behind them, as America always has ... ," Mr. Obama continues, "by investing in education and training, roads and bridges, research and technology."
The 30-second spot is set to run in six battleground states: Florida, Iowa, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia.
The president's traveling campaign press secretary, Jen Psaki, who showed a copy of the ad to reporters on Air Force One Tuesday, said the campaign decided to produce an ad featuring the president speaking to the camera because "he's an effective communicator." She didn't directly answer a question about whether the campaign is concerned that the political blowback over the remarks is taking a serious toll.
"We are not going to stand by while Mitt Romney slices and dices and deliberately takes out of context the president's remarks on business," Ms. Psaki told reporters.
"It was important to us to ensure people knew where the president was coming from," she added.
Mr. Romney's campaign pushed back against the president's latest attempt to explain the remarks.
"It's clear what President Obama believes because he told us: 'If you've got a business — you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen.' He said it and he meant it," said Romney spokesman Ryan Williams.
In fact, Mr. Romney has argued that the context is actually far worse than the shortened quote.
"I found the speech even more disconcerting than just that particular line," Mr. Romney said Monday on CNBC's "The Kudlow Report."
"The context, he says, 'you know, you think you've been successful because you're smart,' but he says a lot of people are smart. 'You think you've been successful because you work hard; a lot of people work hard ... .'
"This is an ideology which says, 'Hey, we're all the same here. We ought to take from all and give to one another and that achievement, individual initiative and risk-taking and success are not to be rewarded as they have in the past,'" he continued.
The launch of the ad, which will begin airing Wednesday, follows several attempts by the president and his aides to do some damage-control and explain his comments.
During a stop in Portland, Ore., on Tuesday evening, Mr. Obama accused Mr. Romney of "twisting my words to say I don't support small businesses" and argued that his opponent's campaign is overplaying its hand.
"These are the games that are played in campaigns," Mr. Obama said, "although I have to say when people start omitting whole sentences, they may have tipped a little bit over their skis. They may have gone over the edge."
He also said he believes "with all his heart" that American entrepreneurs' "drive" and "ingenuity" lead to their success. "The ability for somebody who's willing to work hard, put in their sweat and their sacrifice to turn their idea into a profitable business, that's the nature of America. We prize that," he said.
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