Romney: Obama wants to 'substitute' freedom
August 22nd, 2012
03:20 PM ET
6 years ago

Romney: Obama wants to 'substitute' freedom

(CNN) - Mitt Romney continued to hammer President Barack Obama over the president's controversial remark about business owners, arguing Wednesday that the president's administration has been chipping away at economic freedoms.

"It is free men and women that drive our economy. Freedom is what makes America work. And President Obama, bless his heart, has tried to substitute government for free people–and it has not worked, and it will never work," Romney said at LeClaire Manufacturing in Bettendorf, Iowa.

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During his remarks, a small group of business owners stood behind Romney on stage–all wearing shirts with large, white font that read: "Government didn't build my business, I did. Built by us."

Romney's campaign has not let down in its offensive against the president for his July 13 remarks in Roanoke, Virginia, in which Obama argued successful people had help along the way from their communities.

"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 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," Obama said.

Team Romney and other top Republicans have focused on the "you didn't build that" line, saying it was not a gaffe, but a symbol of the president's overall philosophy about the role of government.

The presumptive GOP nominee insisted Wednesday the president was too eager to replace personal freedoms with bureaucracy, though he did not elaborate on which freedoms the Obama administration had infringed upon.

"One out of six people (have) fallen into poverty under this president. The gap between the rich and the poor has gotten larger under this president," Romney said. "His policies of substituting government for free people have not worked. We will return freedom and get America growing again."

His points were part a larger theme, highlighting the difference one person can make. To make his case, Romney pointed to people he found inspiring–including Rosa Parks, Lech Walesa, and his sister–and told a story about an unnamed woman who called Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceau┼čescu a "liar" at a speech, sparking thousands to follow suit and chant the same word at the ruler.

Romney was then interrupted by a heckler in his own speech, who shouted out that he wanted to ask the candidate a question. As other audience members began to drown out the heckler's noise with chants of "U.S.A.," Romney paused to address the disturbance.

"You know there's always an occasion to ask me questions and I'm happy to answer those questions but only when we come to answer and question time," Romney said. "If that gentleman wants to wait outside to ask me a question I'll be happy answer it."

The campaign later said Romney did not meet with the individual, because the questioner left the property after local law enforcement escorted him out, according to pool reports.

Romney's statements Wednesday further piled on to similar arguments that his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, made earlier in the day in Roanoke, the same city where Obama made his original comment last month.

The Obama campaign has repeatedly fought back, saying Team Romney was taking the president's words out of context. They point to the more than 4.5 million jobs created in the last 29 months as evidence of the president's support for small business. Responding to the attacks Wednesday, the Obama campaign argued a Romney administration would be detrimental to the economy.

"Mitt Romney today said that a Romney-Ryan White House would make America stronger, but we know that's not true. Romney would increase health care costs for all Americans by repealing the savings in Medicare and turning Medicare into a voucher system, he would raise taxes on the average middle class family with kids by $2,000 a year to pay for tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, and even independent economists have said his policies wouldn't create a single job and could actually push us back into recession," Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith said in a statement. "This isn't a recipe for strength; it's the same failed formula that crashed the economy and devastated the middle class in the first place."

Filed under: 2012 • Economy • Iowa • Mitt Romney
soundoff (108 Responses)
  1. 8.3% unemployment - Over 8% 42 Straight months and the Obama Jobs DEPRESSION continues unabated

    Obama/Biden – $5 TRILLION in new debt, 8.3% unemployment, stagnant economy... YES OBAMA DID DO IT. Hope & Change? More like Dope & Chains. Wake up American before it is too late.

    August 22, 2012 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  2. Marcia Greenwood, IN

    Romney's argument is ridiculous-he is the one who would have ended the US auto industry-how many would be out of work then-Romney may know business but how can we trsut him to run the country since he is a 1%er who wants a buget that would cut his taxes to LESS than 1 % and leave the rest of the country to pay forit-We Must have an infrastructure and education which Romney does not want to pay for but he is will to have a war with Iran-I am not

    August 22, 2012 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  3. Jill

    These are all true statements. 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 that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges... and so you get the picture. Additionally, if you are such a successful business person, then other people who work for you also help make it successful – tell your employees you do it all alone. That's BS. So Mr. Romney, don't mess with us. We know what the president meant even if he didn't state it quite so well at the end of his paragraph. But then, you never make misstatements, right?

    August 22, 2012 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  4. Hahahahahaahha

    The GOP DID build that(fiscal cliff)! Hahahahahahahahaha

    August 22, 2012 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  5. Andrew

    Just the fact Romney uses WE in the banner instead of I shows Obama was right about saying YOU didnt build this ALONE. Whether it be the roads you drive on, the people that deliver your products, the tax breaks, etc. People are just too dumb to understand that....

    August 22, 2012 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |

    Romney the tax cheat is unfit to be president or any public office ,what a losey campaign .

    August 22, 2012 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  7. TY

    Come On , no one believes Romney, he is a FAKE and the truth is not in him. People needs to ask him about self because no one know him. He acting lika a RICH cat , that thinks his way or not way.

    August 22, 2012 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  8. Expat American

    An outright lie based on a misquote taken out of context is the entirety of the Romney campaign?
    When is Romney going to begin the Muslim Fear angle?

    August 22, 2012 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  9. American People

    The GOP solution for the American People: Turn all the Old, Sick, Poor, Female, Non-white, Non-christian, Unemployed, and Gay people into slaves. Then whip them until they are Young, Healthy, Rich, Male, White, Christian, Employed, and Straight. Or until they are dead. Then turn them into Soylent Green to feed the military.

    August 22, 2012 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  10. 1CentFree

    Like the Freedom to do with your body what you want? It's the GOP that wants to stop that. Get it straight Mittens.

    August 22, 2012 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  11. Mark

    This is going the wrong way for Romney. He is not going to win indies with lies,half truths, and a plan that raises taxes on the middle class while cutting them for the wealthy. Obama isn't all that great of a choice, but Mitt has shown no reason why he would be better than Obama.

    August 22, 2012 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  12. Gina

    OH PLEASE! Alexithymic Mitt is starting to sound as dopey as Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann with that kind of talk.

    August 22, 2012 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  13. eciam

    No Responses, or not what CNN wants to hear!

    August 22, 2012 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |

    Romney the tax cheat is running the worst campaigns ever and can't relate to anybody on any issue ,what a failed canadate ,just like in mass.

    August 22, 2012 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  15. rs

    Unfortunately, GOP "freedom" means: Healthcare if you can afford it; education if you can afford it; the freedom to be underpaid, and have no job protection; the freedom to have your immediate environment ruined by a corporation; the freedom to have some rapist's child be born to you; the freedom to die younger than citizens of most other first world nations; freedom for the insane to be heavily armed; etc.

    See, freedom for the GOP is just for the rich- for the rest of us- not so much.

    August 22, 2012 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  16. Greg in Arkansas

    "bless his heart".... This is a term used by the people of the southern United States, particularly near the Gulf, to express to someone that they are an idiot without saying such harsh words.....we get your HOW do you plan to fix things...??..any details...??...or are we supposed to "trust" you that no government regulation will be better... will Wall Street do the right thing without the SEC or companies will not pollute our water and air if you eliminate the EPA.....please tell us and skip the derogatory inferences.....we ain't as stupid as you think.....

    August 22, 2012 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |

    What the heck is romney even talking about ???????

    August 22, 2012 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  18. Chumlee

    Without a doubt, Mttens Romney is the biggest liar on planet earth! He will say and do anything to win, and really, are the people in this country – voters – this stupid to fall for this fraud?

    Look at his face. He is out of touch, a cheat, and where are your tax returns MitWit?

    August 22, 2012 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  19. Sniffit

    ""Government didn't build my business, I did. Built by us.""

    Yawn. "Sound eeconomic policy didn't buy my votes/donations, promises of irresponsible tax cuts did."


    BTW: Stop lying. Tax returns. Get specific or get lost.

    August 22, 2012 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  20. anonoymous

    How do you get the presidency without my vote? or the votes of the people? maybe you sarah and old john can exchange stories about how the black beat you guys again and you did build that!

    August 22, 2012 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  21. cisco4

    Romeny and his 61 thousand dollar a day minimum wage..

    August 22, 2012 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  22. chill485

    If the government hadn't built the roads your products are delivered on, or the schools you and your workers are educated in, if there weren't government enforced rules and the court system to settle disputes and insure that others couldn't steal your ideas or destroy your business in some way, then you would have had a lot harder time and in many cases couldn't have built your business at all. That is waht the President said and he is correct. And the doesn't even count the tax system that is rigged to support big business even while pretending to tax them at a higher rate.

    August 22, 2012 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  23. Squigman

    The most pathetic person in the room, is the one that needs to shed the necktie, and put on a cheerleaders costume. Then break out the pom-poms, and start the never ceasing rant, We Did it, We Did It. What the costumed clown means is I Did It, I Did It. There will be punch and cookies at the end of the 45 minute workout. The refreshments will be plentiful since most of the onlookers have retreated to their proper washrooms, where loud retching can be heard along with the moans of why oh why did I come here to see and hear this again. It's getting old.

    August 22, 2012 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  24. I'll take

    I'll take "Republican Hot Air And Lies" for $1000 Alex. And the answer is "What republican speech is full of hot air and lies?" What would be ALL of them? Alex. You're right for a $1000.

    August 22, 2012 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |


    Willard Capone the tax evader is in no position to talk. He shouldn't even be a candidate. He should be in federal prison like everyone else whose committed tax evasion. I can make this kind of comment because I don't have no one to dispute it. Until the tax cheat releases more taxes, I'm going to keep assumming he's a criminal.

    August 22, 2012 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
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