Romney: Obama wants to 'substitute' freedom
August 22nd, 2012
03:20 PM ET
2 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 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."


Filed under: 2012 • Economy • Iowa • Mitt Romney
soundoff (108 Responses)
  1. Lisa P

    "...The gap between the rich and the poor has gotten larger under this president," Romney said...

    Priceless! Of course, Romney notably fails to mention what the gap between the rich and the poor will do if his own policies ever came into effect. "Gosh, I wonder...," say the people who are fooled all of the time, "If he does the opposite thing from Obama will there be an opposite result?" But where are the usual Republican shills crying "Class warfare"? Hmmmm. Strangely silent when it's their own guy talking.

    August 22, 2012 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  2. V

    Oh yea – I STILL WANT TO SEE YOUR TAX RETURNS!!!!! Couldn't even consider voting for you until you disclose at least 5 years worth.

    August 22, 2012 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  3. Sniffs S hits

    If BO had it his way, he would be the matrix and he would use us as batteries.

    August 22, 2012 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  4. SA in OO

    And more to the point the government didn't build Romney's wealth, his daddy did. The first several million are the hardest. After that the sky's the limit, and if you can figure out how to scam the tax system and not get caught you can keep it all.

    In this great country you can really do anything that isn't patently illegal to make money. IF you have power you can rig the system. You can change the laws so there are little or no restrictions on what is legal. So what's wrong with that.

    Nothing, absolutely nothing.

    If you want a country that is driven by the notion that the only real role for government is to get out of the way so that the rich can get richer, well you have your candidate. But don't expect their wealth will "trickle down" to you. And why would then care?

    To quote Romney after all the poor are doing just fine.
    And as Ayn Rand argues, If they aren't that's not your problem . . . unless of course you happen to be one.

    August 22, 2012 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  5. Another Ex-Republican

    @Mike in Michigan: If Romney has it his way you will wish yoh had food stamps.

    August 22, 2012 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  6. mmad5camp

    After Mitt Romney is handed the reciept for his purchase of America, and all the favors are due, well will all be singing "We did not build it", cause all the jobs will be outsourced overseas. Do we really believe that the handful of people paying for the Romney campaign will not call in their marker? I want to believe that we the people will not allow for a few individuals to rule this country, but the more I hear about this presidential campaign, the more I see us going the way of China.

    August 22, 2012 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  7. V

    @bb – when you call the President ridiculous names, how do you expect to get any respect? When talking to an idiot such as yourself, perhaps people feel they have to talk down to your level, as you don't seem to understand it any other way.

    August 22, 2012 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  8. MaryM

    R&R the majority of Americans know exactly who the obstructionist are in congress. And Ryan is one of the people in congress that would HURT the American people in order to try to make President Obama a one term President

    August 22, 2012 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  9. Repandum

    Romney didn't build it.
    He came along, made deals with other exec's without any regard for those that DID build it.

    August 22, 2012 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  10. WireduptheBass S.F.

    Biden says "ya'll vote for us now ya hear, we gave ya'll all kinds of goodies that we stole from the taxpayers"

    August 22, 2012 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  11. teej

    If it's patently nonsensical and those around you choose to believe it. They either want to or they need to. Hmmm – Which one are you? The one the nonsense benefits or the one who thinks he/she belongs to the group that it benefits?? Obama/Biden 2012

    August 22, 2012 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  12. Summary Of Romney's Speech

    Blah, blah, blah, blah, Tax breaks for the rich to create jobs (in India & China), blah, blah, blah, blah, Tax breaks for the rich for better education, blah, blah, blah, blah, Tax breaks for the rich to fund the military, blah, blah, blah, blah, Tax breaks for the rich to improve health care, blah, blah, blah, blah, Tax breaks for the rich to improve our infrastructure, blah, blah, blah, blah, Tax breaks for the rich to create clean air and water, blah, blah, blah, blah, Tax breaks for the rich to create freedom, blah, blah, blah, blah, Tax breaks for the rich for horses and yaghts, blah, blah, blah blah, Tax breaks for the rich .......................

    Enough already Romney! We all know the GOP mantra. STFU already.

    August 22, 2012 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  13. Malory Archer

    Critical Thinking

    I truly believe that the President meant infrastructure when he said you didn't build that but here is the kicker, our tax dollars did, blah, blah, blah, blah.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    You've been spamming these message boards all day with your mindless drivel. Yes, tax dollars DID build that. Yours, mine, and everyone else – INCLUDING THOSE WHO DON'T OWN BUSINESSES.

    August 22, 2012 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  14. California Gary

    It appears that Romney has outsourced the truth. Or maybe he has it stored in a vault in the Cayman Islands. Wherever it is........it's certainly not within his grasp.

    August 22, 2012 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  15. Lisa P

    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."

    I I love the way that even when these Republican flunkies are trying their darnedest to pretend to be rugged self-made individualists they can't get away from the first person plural pronouns. "Built by us." Exactly. Not you, singular. Us. They make President Obama's point for him at every one of Mitt Romney's or Paul Ryan's campaign stops.

    August 22, 2012 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  16. WILLARD MILTON ROMNEY IS A COWARD & TAX EVADER

    Willard Capone, I'm not sure what your "holy" book teaches, but mines & Paul Ryan's says thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. I don't know how Paul Ryan can stand right by your side and listen to you spew your lies and spread deceit. Whooop! My Bad. He's been doing the exact same thing. That "catholic deer hunter" needs to go bathe in some holy water.

    August 22, 2012 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  17. CanadaONE

    Romney DID BUILD THAT

    Yes Romney invested in Canadian Bonds to avoid taxatioin in the USA !

    When Romney's taxes are made public you will see this man invested MORE in other countries NOT the USA

    and you would vote him in as president ??

    HOW STUPID CAN YOU GET ?

    August 22, 2012 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  18. low hanging fruit

    Thank you to Apple for making my macbook. Thank you to ATT for making my DSL an my phone line. Thank you Facebook so I can build my business by reaching my customers. Thank you Chevrolet for making the automobile I drive to go meet my customers. We can go on and on. No business would exist without the help, surley by even having regular folks decide on what business they would go to for their needs.

    August 22, 2012 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  19. blindchange

    Go Romney!!!!!! In a landslide 54-46

    August 22, 2012 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  20. 920th RQS VET

    ......so did Mitt Romney reject his father's $$ and say "NO" to the banks willing to lend him $$, just so he could say he built it on his own? The ONLY people that build without ANY help are some desolute farmers, if you ever went to the bank for a loan or gotten a govt. grant to start a business you had SOME help. I think the gist of what the President was saying is we are ALL in this TOGETHER, and WE should help EACHOTHER. I'm not sure how that got twisted into not giving business owners credit for their success. Even if YOU did build it on your own, it wouldnt be anything unless you had consumers coming in to give you their money.

    August 22, 2012 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  21. Former Republican, now an Independent

    Speaking of taking away freedom, how about the republicans in many states taking away teacher's rights and public defender's rights to join a union if that is their desire. If this isn't a blow to liberty, then the ocean doesn't have water in it!

    August 22, 2012 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  22. Donkey Party

    bb – Good lord man, go back to school. How many more major grammatical errors can you fit into your little jumbled paragraph of nonsense? You're a fine representative for the Party of Stupid.

    August 22, 2012 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  23. Tyrone

    the Returns, King Tabby Nackle!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 22, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  24. Sniffit

    'since the Republicans will no longer have the mission of "Making President Obama a one term President.""

    What don't you understand? The GOP/Teatrolls, if they remain in control of one or even both chambers of Congress, will continue their obstruction, delay, filibuster records, lying, demagoguery, waste of resources and time with symbolic legislation, etc. Their mission is to break the federal gov't in ordert o kill the societal safety net. Once the Civil Rights Act passed, black scould vote, women could vote, and SS ad Medicare were created, half the country or so decided that they'd had enough and wanted out. They didn't feel like losing an outright war like last time so they figured they'd just begin the process of using plutocracy to remove all power from the "unwashed masses" and then enact economic policies entirely designed to (a) redistribute the country's wealth to a very very few chosen families and (b) kill off the federal gov't...well, at least everything except for the military, because a giant military is certainly necessary if you wish to be a corporate imperialist.

    August 22, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  25. Say No to Willard Romney Hood and Personhood Ann Ryand

    Freedom to marry who they want? check. Freedom of choice when it comes to womens' wombs? Check.
    Stop hiding behind freedom Willard. You represent the western branch of the taliban.

    August 22, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
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