The up-by-his-bootstraps businessman who stars in an ad for Republican hopeful Mitt Romney seems to have built his business through government-sponsored loans, putting a dent in the campaign's attack on President Barack Obama's saying to business owners, "you didn’t get there on your own."
"My father's hands didn't build this company? My hands didn’t build this company? My son's hands aren't building this company?" New Hampshire businessman Jack Gilchrist, president of Gilchrist Metal, asks in the ad that's been making waves since last week.
Reporting by The New Hampshire Union Leader disputed this claim by looking into Gilchrist's history, revealing that he took over $1 million in government loans since the 1980s, including $800,000 in tax-exempt bonds issued by the New Hampshire Business Finance Authority to build a new manufacturing plant and buy equipment. Gilchrist also admitted to the paper that he took a U.S. Small Business Administration loan of "somewhere south of" $500,000 in the 1980s, and said that to this day about 10 percent of his business comes from defense-related projects.
“Defense business is a good way to help the economy," Gilchrist told the Leader. "But the President wants to cut the crap out of the defense budget. I'm not going to turn a blind eye because the money came from the government. As far as I'm concerned, I'm getting some of my tax money back. I'm not stupid, I'm not going to say 'no.' Shame on me if I didn't use what's available."
In spite of the controversy, the Romney campaign said it's standing by the ad. But apart from the obvious hypocrisy of the Gilchrist ad, the Romney also camp deceptively edited President Obama. And it's no ordinary deceptive edit.
In the ad, Gilchrist's obstinate response follows audio of President Obama saying in Roanoke, Virginia on July 13: "If you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own. If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen."
What the president actually said is much longer and more nuanced. Romney's ad team essentially picked three sentences out of a minute's worth of audio -- sentences that did not come in succession.
"If you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own," the president actually said. "I'm always struck by people who think, 'Wow, it must be because I was just so smart.' There are a lot of smart people out there. 'It must be because I worked harder than everybody else.' Lemme tell you something: there are a lot of hard working people out there. 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's 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. The Internet did not get invented on its own."
The ad was apparently enough of a punch to get President Obama to respond directly. "In politics we all tolerate a certain amount of spin," he said at a campaign stop in Oakland on Monday evening, according to The Los Angeles Times. "I understand these are the games that get played in political campaigns. But when folks omit entire sentences of what I said -- they start splicing and dicing -- you may have gone a little over the edge."
And to drive that point home, the Obama campaign has highlighted a speech Romney made in 2002, during the opening ceremonies at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, in which he too exclaimed that even the Olympians "didn't get here solely on your own power."
"For most of you, loving parents, sisters or brothers, encouraged your hopes, coaches guided, communities built venues in order to organize competitions," he said. "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. All right!"
This video was published to YouTube by the Mitt Romney for President campaign on July 20, 2012.
This video was published to YouTube by GOP Rapid Response on July 16, 2012.