After two weeks of political fallout over his “you didn’t build that” comments about business owners, President Obama is bringing his attempt to clarify the remarks directly to voters with a new ad accusing Republicans of taking his quotes out of context.
In the 30-second spot titled “Always,” Mr. Obama attempts to respond to a torrent of criticism from both sides of the aisle and attacks from presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney over comments he made during a campaign stop July 13 in Roanoke, Va.
“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,” he continues, “by investing in education and training, roads and bridges, research and technology.”
Mr. Obama’s traveling campaign press secretary Jen Psaki, who showed a copy of the ad to the reporters traveling with the president, 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 furor 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 traveling on Air Force One Tuesday.
The 30-second spot is set to run in six battleground states: Florida, Iowa, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia.
The fuss centered around remarks Mr. Obama made in which he said all wealth has a social context and depends on the support of others, including the government.
“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. 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,” he said.
The new ad follows several attempts by the president and his aides to do some damage-control and to explain away his comments. Mr. Obama’s also has charged the Romney campaign with “splicing and dicing” his comments to make the statement look even more offensive to business owners and entrepreneurs.
The most recent came during a campaign event in California Monday night.
“I believe with all my heart that it is the drive and the ingenuity of Americans who start businesses that lead to their success,” Mr. Obama told supporters at a rally in Oakland. “I always have and I always will. 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. That’s what helped make our economy the envy of the world.”