(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 Ceauşescu 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."