Published on Wednesday, September 05, 2012
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
The first day of the Republican National Convention was devoted to rebutting a selectively edited speech delivered by President Barack Obama, which had its philosophical origins in a viral video of Elizabeth Warren from last summer.
Despite the contention from Democrats that Republicans took Obama's "you didn't build that" line out of context, misconstruing the meaning, there has been little effort to directly respond to the hay the GOP made of it last week, when the portrayed Democrats as insensitive to private sector contributions.
Asked whether there would be any effort from the Democratic National Convention to counter the GOP's interpretation of Obama's remarks, DNC CEO Stephen Kerrigan said, "I don't know. I don't think so. We like to counter things by doing everything better and with better messaging."
Asked whether Warren would seek to counter the Republican message during her time in Charlotte, her spokeswoman Alethea Harney said in a statement, "Mitt Romney, Scott Brown and their fellow Republicans have spent weeks taking President Obama's words out of context and misleading the American people about what he said. Scott Brown and Mitt Romney support continuing a rigged system that favors tax breaks for big corporations and billionaires. We deserve better," but declined to state whether the Senate candidate would use the national stage to deliver a rebuke.
While not addressing Harney's claims that the words were out of context and misleading, Brown's spokeswoman Alleigh Marre responded to the Warren campaign's statement.
"Professor Warren not only believes that government is the reason for the success of the private sector, but she is the originator of the 'you didn't build it' philosophy with her living room rant last year. This idea is a dangerous one, and it turns the American Idea on its head," Marre wrote. "Scott Brown believes that free markets and America's entrepreneurial spirit is the key to our economic future. This is a fundamental difference between the two candidates."
The RNC drew political ammunition from a speech Obama gave in Roanoke, Va., on July 13, in which he talked about the important role education and infrastructure plays in a businessperson's success.
"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," Obama said, according to the official White House transcript. "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."
Republicans have zeroed in on the "If you've got a business, you didn't build that," line, interpreting it to mean Obama does not credit business people for creating their businesses.
Brown declined a speaking role at the RNC in Tampa, Fla., but other Massachusetts Republicans have knocked Obama.
"I resent the fact that the president said the government built my business," said Rep. Steven Howitt (R-Seekonk), who runs the excavation and trucking company founded by his father.
"It's insulting to my parents and grandparents," said Rep. Don Wong (R-Saugus), a third-generation owner of the Kowloon restaurant on Route 1.
While Warren did not use the words "You didn't build that" Obama's theme of infrastructure and education being an essential element of business development echoed similar points that Warren made last summer in a video that went viral.
"There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own," Warren said in the video. "Nobody. You built a factory out there. Good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us pay for."
Though the DNC has not focused on rebutting Republicans on that political point, the convention has featured several denouncements of Romney and the Republican Party's platform.
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