'You didn't build that:' A theme out of context
August 31st, 2012
08:28 AM ET
2 years ago

'You didn't build that:' A theme out of context

(CNN) – "You didn't build that."

That July comment by President Barack Obama was the cornerstone of this year's Republican National Convention. Republicans have seized on the phrase - a seemingly stray clause in a line Obama delivered at a campaign stop in Virginia - as a kind of Freudian slip that reveals the president's hostility to free enterprise.

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soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. Phyllis G Williams

    "Without Me ye can do nothing" (John 15: 5).

    August 31, 2012 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  2. Desmond, a Canadian

    At the heart of the GOP platform (or lack thereof) : DISTORTIONS/ LIES

    August 31, 2012 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  3. myviewis

    I think you said it all "as a kind of Freudian slip that reveals the president's hostility to free enterprise." The President is free to resent small businesses. I think he purposely offended small businesses owners because he is offended by people that build a business based on his words "I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart", in other words stop thinking you're so good and better than the rest of us. He's just a jealous kid who wants to take away from those people who put everything on the line to create a dream, those who had the persistence, courage, the disappointing times, who faced fear, sacrificed endless hours to make a dream come true. Oh no, in Obama's words "if you’ve got a business - you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. "

    August 31, 2012 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  4. Anonymous

    The "U DIdn't Build That" theme Republicans centered their convention on has become the biggest joke on the GOP throughout America. I can't tell you how many times I've heard people repeat that phrase ... directing their amused contempt AT Republicans. A fitting eulogy for the party that has itself become the biggest joke in America.

    August 31, 2012 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  5. Republicans; the "Not Intended to be Factually Accurate" Party

    The entire REPUBLICAN campaign is at best comments out of context annd, usually, outright LIES. Just ask Newt Gingrich.

    Romney said that President Obama has reaised "Middle Class taxes" WRONG! But we do know that a non-partisan group found that the ROMNEY tax plan raises icome taxes on middle income families.

    Romney claimed Obama took $700B out of Medicare. Well, no , he didn`t. He told Medical providers that the Government wouldn`t pay as much, wouldn`t pay OVERLY INFLATED prices for proceedures. Wel<e got enough doctors that they`ll lower their profit margins to compete. That`s the "free-market" that the GOP is always yammering about.

    In contrast, the Romney/ Ryan PLAN, which journalists have allow Romney to NOT DISCUSS, tells doctors, "Charge whatever YOU want. We Republicans are going to make consumers – - that MEANS PATIENTS - make up the higher fees you want to get. Both seek to reduce the Governments tab for Medicare but the GOP plan forces the liability on the people and NOT the corporations.

    That`s a perfect example of CONTEXT. Too bad the "Throwback Team" of Ryan & Romney are incapable of presenting a complete story in context and letting informed voters make intelligent choices.

    August 31, 2012 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  6. gadem

    so they are building their campaign on a lie?! Good to know...

    August 31, 2012 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  7. w l jones

    Poor people built this country. Said enough.

    August 31, 2012 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  8. Rudy NYC

    "We Built It" Republicans are actually proud of the convention that they built and showed us. Amazing.

    August 31, 2012 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  9. myviewis

    This portion of Obama's speech proves that he has no idea what all goes into building a business and running a business, Obama said.... "There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires" well of course fighting fires involves everyone, it is a Fire.

    A fire is completely different than a business that requires an owner to be up at 2AM trying to finish so he can deliver the next day to a client or is up at 2AM trying to get all his office work done because he was out all day visiting clients or he is up at 2AM studying, trying to learn a new technology, reading up on new equipment. And you are alone trying to figure out how to get money into your business, how to collect monies so you can meet payroll and pay the bills. No government is sitting with me at 2Am when I am working numbers to meet my payroll, pay the rent and everything else I have to pay in business and yes that it includes the monthly, quarterly taxes due.

    Obama has no idea of business, creating jobs, economy but he is a fine, crafty attorney who truly believes government is the foundation that we should rely on to prosper in our lives, he truly believes in the centrality of government in our lives.

    August 31, 2012 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  10. GI Joe

    George didn't build anything but debt and wars. Romney and Ryan don't build anything but distortions, lies, and hate.

    No thanks, Repubs - not again.

    August 31, 2012 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  11. mikey

    It was all in "context". In the next few lines Obama said you were not smarter than anybody else or you did not work any harder either.

    August 31, 2012 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  12. enuff

    You didn't build that... your employees did... the construction team that built your home and business local did... the people who paved the parking/street by your business did... the utility workers did... then Bain came to town, and they broke it.

    August 31, 2012 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  13. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Well, I have to wonder if there was no government support for basic research where would be the basis for computers be? It was a lot of funding that had help bring about the intergrated circuit and other technological marvels that we take for granted. Are they saying that there are people reinventing things and building their own roads?

    August 31, 2012 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  14. Expat American

    Taking something out of context is the cornerstone? It’s as if the GOP doesn’t have anything else upon which to build an actual platform – which, essentially, they don’t.

    August 31, 2012 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  15. gord

    romney build every thing with his hardware store stuff

    August 31, 2012 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  16. gt

    obama has never run a business...he has no clue....time for a change...america needs better...

    August 31, 2012 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  17. independent

    It was very clear to me that the President was referring to infrastructure. He inference was that individuals don't build roads, bridges airports, tunnels and such, the collective government does. Without these large infrastructural investments made by all of us as a group, the individual would struggle in a global economy to create a successful business. GOP soundbites to the contrary are just lies used to reinforce the progressive bigotry of those who hate Democrats in general and the President in particular. It is disgusting the the media doesn't quickly and completely destroy such 'arguements'.

    August 31, 2012 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  18. Miguel White

    Sorry, the liberals and their media outlets can try to sell that story all you want about "it is out of context", "he meant something else" but the bottom line is Barack went off script and teleprompter and screwed up.

    Obama meant exactly what he said, he hates business and business people, has nto understanding how to run a business and he is a government will solve all your problems man.

    August 31, 2012 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  19. Yonni

    How can this people built anything out of utter lies? Isn’t that risky when the founding premise is a lie? GOP is depending on the less fortunate and miss informed (faux and talk show host listener) voters. Defenately it will make it harder to pass the 50% threshold to win an election.

    August 31, 2012 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  20. chuck

    The two political parties are destroying this once great nations. Both parties lie and pervert the truth on all topics. They use catch phrases to lure voters to their parties platforms. They bring is actors and politicians who have no real record for their views. What ever happened to the concept of "good for Americans". I bet Egypt and Libya's leaders never thought being overthrown was a possibility. In a way I'm starting to think that may be the only way Americans can take back this country from the special interest groups and greedy politicians. What do millionaire politicians have in common with Americans... nothing. They can't even pretend to understand what the average American is going through. They wouldn't want me as president because the first thing I would do is replace each and everyone of them with middle class Americans. You would definitely seem a change then. It's awful to even think that an armed revolution is a better choice than the present status in Washington, but I can see it happening. What the Democrats and Republicans have done to this once great nations should be considered a crime and punishable by prison sentences, in real prisons, not country club facilities!

    August 31, 2012 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  21. rs

    Let's chat about the "free maket" a little bit. The GOP loves to talk about gas prices doubling under Obama (when in fact the highest spike came unde Bush). What can be done about that? Produce more oil? That might work, except that oil companies are exporting "our" oil to other nations- where they get better prices. Produce more oil, more goes off-shore. Same with coal (we export to India). THAT is the "free market".
    So to "control" oil prices (as Mr. Romney and a legion of GOPpers claim they can), that would involve some sort of artificial price control, or product control (no exports)- another method might be to federalize the oil companies (much like industry was federalized during WWII)-OH MY GOD! That would be "socialism".

    If Ryan and Romney really ardently believe in the free market- Americans will pay whatever corporations charge to gain their best profits. They can't and won't control prices. This is just more GOP lies.

    As to the Build-it thing- a perfect lie unto itself. Manufactured by carefule editing at FOX, and spread gleefully by Romney and Ryan- more lies.

    What the President said was we work best when we work together- government and industry. As the GOP won't work with the President (and their lie is proof), they must be hoping for some other outcome.

    August 31, 2012 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  22. CBR

    Is this still in the news? The words were taken out of context and if you really think about what the President might mean you realized that any business requires teh hard work and dedication of the founders. However, many other people were part of that venture. When a business is successful we are all proud of that and know we helped it to succeed.

    What is not being mentioned is the take-over of so many businesses that were built by individuals. Large companies enter the area and the small businesses cannot compete. It is just too bad that politicians feel the need to pounce on each other.

    Funny, when Mr. Romney talked about his birth certificate there wan not much doubt about what he meant. His handlers tried to explain that one away as a joke. I think candidates do make statements that they would like to take back. When they do they should take the time to tell us that they realize their joke was not funny!

    August 31, 2012 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  23. clatech

    When is it that the workers should get some kind of credit for building it.

    August 31, 2012 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  24. Aiden

    The arrogant and do nothing media may think "You didn't build that" was out of context but thats not how a lot of us view it. We view it as a Obama's true thoughts and a reflection of his actions that government (in his view) is the source of all wealth and prosperity. The last 3.5 years is proof.

    August 31, 2012 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  25. Matt

    Link to the "full story" takes me to a page that shows Americans have a darkening view of kids' futures, not the page I wanted to read.

    August 31, 2012 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
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