A new ad from President Obama's campaign seems to indicate that Mitt Romney's campaign has found an attack that could stick -- the allegation that Obama thinks business owners didn't build their businesses on their own.
The ad attempts to refute the claim, pushed by the Romney campaign, that Obama has launched an attack on personal initiative and, Romney has said on the campaign trail, against "success." When Obama said during a recent campaign speech in Virginia that "if you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that," Republicans jumped on the phrase, arguing that it illustrated just how out of touch Obama is when it comes to creating jobs and improving the economy.
The Romney campaign went so far as to release an ad showcasing a small-business owner expressing skepticism about the idea and including that line of the speech. Romney's ad, however, edits Obama's remarks, cutting out other parts of his speech that, according to a number of reports -- including those from the Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post -- reveal Obama was really referring to "the American system" when he said "you didn't build that," including teachers, roads, and bridges, all of which receive government funds.
But the Republican refrain seems to have gained enough traction -- at a time when polls show the president trailing his rival on handling of the economy -- that the Obama campaign felt the need to release its new ad, called "Always," that features Obama speaking directly to the camera.
"Those ads taking my words about small business out of context -- they're flat-out wrong. Of course Americans build their own business," he asserts over clips of workers opening businesses and teachers in the classroom.
Obama says that what he was actually talking about in his Virginia speech is that "we need to stand behind them, as America always has," with investments in "education, training, roads and bridges, research and technology."
The ad will air in swing states Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Iowa, and Nevada.
As The Washington Post points out, Obama's argument isn't anything new -- Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren said essentially the same thing in a speech last year, and The Post dates the argument back to President Franklin D. Roosevelt's address to Congress in 1935. Of course, taking statements out of context isn't new, either.