Federal Politics

Published — July 26, 2012 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

Daily Disclosure: Republicans run with out-of-context Obama quote

Artful editing makes for good attack ads

Introduction

Republicans and conservative super PACs have pounced on President Barack Obama’s July 13 comment at an event in Virginia: “If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that.”

Thursday’s ad from American Crossroads, the football-themed “Replay,” hammers home their talking point: that Obama believes small business owners didn’t build their businesses on their own.

The super PAC’s July 24 ad “Build” also uses the quote, as has the Mitt Romney campaign and other GOP candidates. The Republican National Committee’s video “The More Context You Get, the Worse It Sounds” also takes advantage of the admittedly artless quote.

But in fact, the more context you “get,” the more holes show up in the argument.

Obama’s speech on July 13 focused on government investments — in infrastructure, public schools and research. He talked about the investors, the educators and the inventors that underlie the American economy.

It becomes clear with context that Obama is not dismissing the effort of business owners: “The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together,” Obama said seconds after the “you didn’t build that” comment.

But the ads show the quote as a stand-alone; no context is provided. The Romney campaign goes so far as to play the statement on a loop for 15 seconds in an online video.

FactCheck.org and The Washington Post’s The Fact Checker have both concluded that the quote is out of context and misleading, and the Obama campaign pushed back with “Tampered” on July 23 to criticize the ads for misrepresenting what he said.

Nonetheless, the quote survives. On Wednesday, the Romney campaign held events featuring local business owners in 24 states with the slogan, “We did build this.”

American Crossroads, responsible for the newest ad repeating the quote, is one of the best-funded super PACs in the country, finishing June with $31.5 million in cash on hand. Its top funders include businessman Harold Simmons and his company Contran Corp., Texas homebuilder Bob Perry, and former Univision owner Jerry Perenchio.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the country’s largest — and nominally bipartisan — business association, launched a series of ads Wednesday night opposing Democratic candidates:

In other outside spending news:

  • Majority PAC, a pro-Senate Democrats super PAC, reported to the Federal Election Commission Wednesday a $230,000 media buy opposing John Brunner, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Missouri.
  • National Horizon, an Arizona-focused super PAC, reported spending $100,000 on Sunday for the fairy tale-themed attack ad “Prince Ben,” which opposes the re-election of Rep. Ben Quayle, D-Ariz.
  • Senate Conservatives Action, the new super PAC associated with what was formerly South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint’s leadership PAC, spent $511,000 on ads to support tea party favorite Ted Cruz in his U.S. Senate run in Texas. Cruz faces GOP establishment favorite Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in a runoff next Tuesday.
  • SEIU COPE, the political action committee of the Service Employees International Union, reported spending nearly $49,000 on TV ads supporting the congressional run of Christie Vilsack, a Democrat and the former first lady of Iowa. The ad “More of That” was released July 23 and produced with the House Majority PAC, which contributed $30,000, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which contributed $35,000.
  • SEIU COPE also spent $136,000 on TV ads opposing Romney.
  • Three new super PACs registered with the FEC: Patriot Prosperity PAC in Washington, D.C., The Faux News Super PAC in Cortez, Colo., and Sovereignty Matters in Novoto, Calif.

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SOUTH JERSEYTed SiroisMark SullivanTom LarkinAnonymous Recent comment authors
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Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Trump needs to conduct these activities because the entire MSM media, excluding Fox, is campaigning against him 24/7/365.

Didn’t Monica’s boyfriend’s wife and various criminal enterprises outspend Trump by almost 2-1?

CapitalistRoader
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CapitalistRoader

Why wouldn’t he get an early start on fund raising? Hillary outspent him two-to-one in 2016. The Dem’s are the party of big money. The President knows this and is attempting to get a jump on it. Of course the Dem candidate will outspend him in 2020 so it’s only rational that he starts fund raising now.

George Young
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George Young

Oh brother. We just 8 years of the Campaigner – in – Chief. Where was this journalistic rectal thermometer then. Just another article about 2000 words too long that merely takes another slap at Trump for something he far from initiated.

j stevenson
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j stevenson

The big difference between Trump and all the rest is his refusing to accept funds from lobbyists, so they don’t have the White House access they are used to. These are the donors who buy the presidency and are as pixxed off that he won the election as are the media and the Dems. Lobbyists have never been shut out of the WH and Trump has told them he is not for sale.

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Trump needs to be impeached and tossed in prison. Then have the key thrown away so he will never be free. Then he can see how it feels not to have freedom.

Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Thank you for the usual insightful leftist low IQ Snowflake response.

barney
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hes not imprisoning them hes sending them back to their country chill tf out

SOUTH JERSEY
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SOUTH JERSEY

WHY DONT YOU HAVE FREEDOM?

Tom Larkin
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Tom Larkin

First, something positive. I was happy to learn of empirical information in article. BUT, the article was so slanted against President Trump as to be deemed fake news (“Perhaps Trump just lied.” (Two different issues)). The article mentions that President Trump raised over $67 million, but ended 2018 with $19 million. President Trump spent over $40 million 2016 and 2017. President Trump conducted 57 political rallies. The article notes the hats and T-shirts sold, but NEVER MENTIONS THE INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF REPUBLICAN SENATORS during a mid-term election that lost the House and the number of political rallies in… Read more »

Ted Sirois
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Ted Sirois

At least Trump is getting donations from willing donors. Fresh from his first election, Obama used billions of our children’s tax dollars to save thousands of union jobs in the car industry and bailed out the banks and many Wall Street businesses. This secured his source of reelection funds for his reelection four years later.

South Jersey
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South Jersey

TRUMP 2020; IS AN AMAZINGLY SMART MAN! VERY ORIGINAL & CREATIVE. I AM HAPPY TO HAVE HIS AS POTUS.

SOUTH JERSEY
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SOUTH JERSEY

THIS ARTICLE WAS OBVIOUSLY WRITTEN BY, A TRUMP-HATE-GROUP. THAT FEELS; IT IS NOT NORMAL TO BE SUCCESSFUL WITH YOUR OWN BRAND NAME. WHEN, IF FACT, IT IS NORMAL! >>>>> THIS IS >>> FAKE NEWS!!! <<<< ie: A PACK-OF-LIES; SPUN INTO; DEFAMATION OF CHARACTER. FOR A SINISTER-AGENDA OF; FASCIST DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST, COUP D'ETAT