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Romney Ad Takes Liberties With Obama Quote: VIDEO


Have you been following what the New Republic calls "Youdidn'tbuildthatgate"? This is the pseudo-scandal surrounding President Obama's slip of the tongue on July 15th, in Roanoke, during a speech about shared responsibility -- a speech in which the president explained that no successful person is successful entirely without the help of his or her fellow human beings, and in which the president garbled one sentence so that, heard or read in isolation, it seems to belittle the whole idea of entrepreneurship and individual initiative. Right-wing pundits soon set about making sure that sentence was only heard or read in isolation. Mitt Romney is now furthering that mission with a television ad.

In case you haven't seen it already, the actual quote from Barack Obama goes like this:

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 ‘cause 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 hard-working people out there.

If you are 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 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 then all the companies could make money off the Internet. The point is, is that, when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.

Obviously, Obama could and should have interpolated the word "alone" after the phrase "you didn't build that" -- both because it's good politics, and also because, without that word, the offending sentence doesn't support the general thesis of the speech. So we know it's a mistake. Mitt Romney doesn't want us to know that, and so he's carefully edited around all the other, mitigating stuff, to create maybe the most dishonest campaign ad you've seen all year. He's running against a guy who doesn't exist. Watch the ad AFTER THE JUMP, and read along with the relevant parts of the speech above to see just how diabolical editing can be. 


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  1. It's so frustrating -- even this site, which supports Obama, can't correctly interpret what he said. Obama did NOT need to use the word "alone" following "you didn't build that" because "that" refers to the roads and the bridges, not the business. He thesis stands as is. Sure, it's unfortunate he said it in a way that enables the sentence to be isolated and used against him, but anyone with basic reading comprehension should be able to understand his point. I can only hope, though I have little of it, that Americans aren't so stupid as to buy into the twisted lie that Romney's ad is pushing.

    Posted by: IS | Jul 22, 2012 12:25:11 PM

  2. You are correct IS but unfortunately America is too stupid to understand. On Friday half of an entire NPR program was devoted to this ridiculous topic and the host was fanning the flames of ignorance.
    It is called basic reading for comprehension and knowing the context of the soundbite- way too much work for people. Afterall there is texting, twittering,facebooking to do- don't ever let facts get in the way of a good story.

    Posted by: Nick | Jul 22, 2012 12:58:08 PM

  3. When did it become uncool to say "lie"? Romney didn't "take liberties." He lied. When you say something means the opposite of what it means, that's a lie.

    Posted by: Paul | Jul 22, 2012 12:58:27 PM

  4. By the way, this taking liberties with pulling quotes out of context to change their meaning has gone both ways. Look up Romney's "I like being able to fire people" quote.

    Posted by: Ken | Jul 22, 2012 1:03:50 PM

  5. Is, Paul, and Nick: You 3 are the stupid Americans, not Romney or the millions of Americans who understood what Obama intended. So sick and tired of our Community-Organizer-in-Chief. The New Republic is as left wing as you can get, so no wonder they are running scared by calling the ad a scandal. Get out of your bubble, heck, put on some clothes for once and step away from your computer and venture outside, talk with business owners and see what they have to say about this. Suck it, sheeple.

    Posted by: Matt | Jul 22, 2012 1:06:43 PM

  6. I'm an ardent enemy of Romney, but it's true that Obama or his speechwriters screwed up this one. It's not about reading comprehension, it's about use of impersonal pronouns and references. "You didn't build those" would have been the fix---it's natural for a singular to modify the preceding singular, not the plural items from the previous sentence---and bringing business into it simply creates problems.

    Posted by: Paul R | Jul 22, 2012 1:09:40 PM

  7. I'd also be curious to know how Obama is "killing" this metal-working factory. What's killing it is that China and myriad other countries can produce and export products much more cheaply. What does he want, subsidies? Wouldn't that violate Republican principles?

    Posted by: Paul R | Jul 22, 2012 1:13:24 PM

  8. Matt:
    please don't make assumptions about people you know nothing about-
    I am not an apologist for Obama-

    Posted by: Nick | Jul 22, 2012 1:23:37 PM

  9. way to break the 9th Commandment, Mittens.

    now you can't get your own star-planet when you die. sorry.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Jul 22, 2012 1:25:13 PM

  10. I love how the ad opens with them driving on a highway. They built that highway?

    Posted by: cjt | Jul 22, 2012 1:25:28 PM

  11. all romney and republicans have are lies.

    Posted by: tc in bk | Jul 22, 2012 1:27:11 PM

  12. Romney = LIAR

    Posted by: datlaw | Jul 22, 2012 1:34:17 PM

  13. Nobel prize winning economist Paul Krugman says take away the lies and romney has/ is saying nothing

    literally nothing

    Posted by: say what | Jul 22, 2012 1:39:34 PM

  14. Mitt Romney - licensed to lie.

    For those LGBT people who are thinking of voting for Romney because he once said he supported our rights - he is a liar. You can't trust a liar, especially when he lies about everything and caves whenever a right wing bigot or nut brings pressure upon him. He lies, he hides his job information, his tax and investment information, his history as governor. He bullied a fellow student and mistreated his dog. Then when confronted he made light of the incidents. I sometimes wonder if he has a core or if he is just an empty shell.

    Posted by: john patrick | Jul 22, 2012 2:06:41 PM

  15. I'm totally sure that if Obama had included the word "alone" in his speech, the GOP would have reported his speech correctly in its entirety.

    "Alone" is the magic word, you see...

    Posted by: BobN | Jul 22, 2012 2:55:24 PM

  16. No one does anything alone except maybe die (and with so many guns out there I question that too). However, when a person makes millions or a person is a broke penniless no body, they have both used the same roads, street lights, school system, religious system etc or what have you. You understand that point. If the "rich" don't do it alone, neither to the poor. This whole argument is silly. The thing most people don't like is some get rich, while most don't.

    Posted by: Sargon Bighorn | Jul 22, 2012 2:56:38 PM

  17. I debated a guy on another site about this, and he said he bought that road with his taxes and to stay off it. as if he and he alone could fund an interstate (or an educational system or port or research).

    The self-delusion and ignorance of the right never ceases to amaze.

    Posted by: Mike | Jul 22, 2012 3:02:39 PM

  18. First let me say that I am an Obama supporter and the thought of President Romney actually frightens me.

    And I have watched that video of Obama making this speech several times, and I 100% percent understand what he was saying, and I own a small business and I get what he was saying...but who in God's name vetted that line? As soon as it was said, you just knew that line was tailor made to be exploited. All Obama is really guilty of here is a gaffe of a line, but it played into every right wing conspiracy theory about Obama.

    Posted by: Chris | Jul 22, 2012 3:24:28 PM

  19. The most dishonest campaign ad ever was brought to us by the "forward" gang at Obama for America concerning outsourcing. It's so egregious that the Washington Post, that noted conservative icon, noted the dishonesty.

    President Orator deserves all he gets for the filthy campaign he is running pitting Americans against each other to distract voters from this horrific economy. Obama is the once who promised unemployment under 8% and to halve the federal deficit. His words, and he had two years of large Democrat majorities to make whatever changes he wanted.

    Facts are stubborn things, though.

    Posted by: LincolnLounger | Jul 22, 2012 4:26:55 PM

  20. Who is this crazy "lincolnlounger" guy?

    Posted by: mike128 | Jul 22, 2012 5:34:41 PM

  21. If his father went to a bank to borrow the money needed to build a company, then no he didn't build the company on his own. If you are smart because you went to school to learn what you know, then you did not get smart on your own. If you live in society, then I can almost guarantee that you did not get to where you are on your own; everyone you've ever interacted with has help you along the way. Mr. Obama should have included, "You should thank your parents, your teachers, your customers, your employees, and your community for helping you get to where you are!" Without that, he does sound arrogant. On the other hand, Mr. Romney and Mr. Gilchrist sound flat out offensive. Mr. Gilchrist in particular, because I can say without a doubt he would not have been able to own a factory without his dad starting it. He forgets that without a community there wouldn't have been a bank that his father could have borrowed money from. No man is an island.

    Posted by: Garst | Jul 22, 2012 6:28:26 PM

  22. "Lincolnlounger" is a Republicant. You can tell because he uses the phrase "Democrat majorities" rather than "Democratic majorities." Since the Republicants continue to use the term Democrat Party, I use the term Republicants, because they can't raise taxes on the rich, can't fund jobs programs, can't denounce bigots and liars among them, can't put more money into education, can't do this and can't do that. Nor can they vote for Republican ideas that Obama or other Democrats have adopted, simply because these particular Republicants are trying to destroy the economy and prevent Obama from being reelected.

    "Lincolnlounger also sounds like a Limbaugh "ditto head." and a "Fox devotee."

    Posted by: john patrick | Jul 22, 2012 6:39:06 PM

  23. Lincolnlounger is a miserable white boy who hopes if he slanders Obama his family will let him sit at the Family Table at Christmas.

    It won't work, though. it never does.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Jul 22, 2012 6:40:19 PM

  24. Uhm Lincolnloung

    U obviously don't read the Washington Post...They have since retracted that and stated flat out that romney needs to provide new more info and they will not award anymore pinochios against the outsourcing claim because new information has come to light along with romney camp not responding with nay facts


    please get up to date on your news info..especially in the internet age when 1 minute can be a lifetime in news

    Posted by: say what | Jul 22, 2012 7:02:08 PM

  25. Looks like Rick got himself a new alt.

    Posted by: FuryOfFirestorm | Jul 22, 2012 7:04:19 PM

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