POSTED: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 - 9:30am
UPDATED: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 - 9:44am
CNN — Even as Mitt Romney heads abroad for a swing through Europe and Israel, his campaign will continue to push the argument back home that President Barack Obama hurts small businesses with a "big-government" policy approach.
Romney's campaign said Wednesday they would hold twenty-four events in battleground states for small business owners to proclaim "we did build this," a rebuke to a comment Obama made two weeks ago in which he argued successful small businesses got that way with the help of governmental support like roads and educators.
"If you are successful, somebody along the line gave you some help," Obama said at a campaign stop in Virginia on July 13. "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."
Bits and pieces of that remark have been used for weeks, both by Romney's campaign in television ads and by the Republican National Committee, which launched an offensive linking the comment to Obama policies they say are anti-business.
Obama's team released a television spot Tuesday pushing back on the attacks, saying they were taking the president's words out of context.
The spot features Obama speaking directly to the camera, refuting the wave of criticism following his remarks. The ad, which largely echoes comments made by the president at a campaign stop in Oakland on Monday, highlights his support for small businesses.
"Those ads taking my words about small business out of context; they're flat out wrong," Obama says in the ad. "Of course Americans build their own business. Everyday hard-working people sacrifice to meet a payroll, create jobs, and make our economy run. And what I said was that we need to stand behind them as America always has. By investing in education, training, roads and bridges, research and technology."
The RNC argued Wednesday that even within context, Obama's remarks were damaging to his political prospects. The group released a video using Obama's full comment, claiming "the more context you get, the worse it sounds."
"President Obama thinks his comments are being taken out of context, but the reality is the context makes it worse," RNC chairman Reince Priebus wrote in a statement. "With more context, it is obvious President Obama doesn't understand that businesses succeed because of the hard work and sacrifice of the American people, not the growth and intrusiveness of government. President Obama thinks he can paint over his latest admission, but he can't cover up four years of anti-business actions."
Mitt Romney, speaking in an interview Monday, made a similar argument.
"I found the speech even more disconcerting than just that particular line. The context is worse than the quote," Romney said on CNBC. "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."
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By Kevin Liptak