Mitt Romney has spent days criticizing President Obama for telling business owners that they owed some of their success to others — such as teachers and those who have built government-paid roads.
Romney has trimmed the nuance out of Obama’s remarks, assuring audiences that the president told business owners that “you didn’t build that.” At a campaign event with small-business leaders in Costa Mesa, the unofficial Republican nominee spoke in front of a banner reading “We did build it!”
But Romney’s own remarks to Olympians, offered during the opening ceremonies for the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City that Romney led, hewed closely to Obama’s suggestion that success is communal.
“You Olympians, however, know you didn’t get here solely on your own power. For most of you, loving parents, sisters or brothers encouraged your hopes,” he said after praising the competitors in footage unearthed by NBC News. “Coaches guided, communities built venues in order to organize competitions. All Olympians stand on the shoulders of those who lifted them. We’ve already cheered the Olympians, let’s also cheer the parents, coaches and communities.”
Obama, speaking in Roanoke, Va., on July 13, came to a similar rhetorical conclusion.
“Look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own.… If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help,” Obama said. “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.”
Romney has featured the president’s remarks in campaign ads and brought it up again Monday at a fundraiser in Irvine on Monday morning.
“We of course have benefits from fireman and people who build roads, and teachers, and they help contribute to our society. Don’t forget by the way, that government does not provide those things. We pay for those things, all right. We’re paying for that,” Romney said.
The use of Obama’s remarks has stretched beyond the presidential campaign. Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) has tied Obama’s remarks to his electoral rival, Elizabeth Warren, in a new ad featuring Warren’s own rendition of the “didn’t do it on your own” theme.
“There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You built a factory out there – good for you,” she said in 2011. “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 paid for.”
View Romney’s full remarks during the Olympics below: