GOP, small businesses rally against Obama's 'didn't build that' comment

Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Victory chair Ed Martin addresses the crowd gathered at John Lorberg's Gordonville, Mo. farm Monday morning, July 30, 2012. Lorberg's farm was a stop on the "We Did Build This" tour across Missouri. Victory chair Ed Martin held the rally in response to President Obama's recent comments about small business owners. (Laura Simon)

John Lorberg has worked his 900-acre farm in Gordonville for 50 years, just as his father and grandfather did for 50 years before him. And when the 75-year-old retires at the end of the year, he plans to turn the operation over to his son and grandson.

So when he heard recent comments by President Barack Obama that "if you've got a business -- you didn't build that; somebody else made that happen," Lorberg admits he was offended.

"We are the individuals who did the work," said Lorberg, who leans Republican but says he votes candidates over party. "When I heard he said that, it was really a slap in the face."

Mitt Romney's campaign held "We Did Build This" rallies in Gordonville and Jefferson City on Monday, the former on Lorberg's farm that was attended by about a dozen people. The event was also hosted by the Missouri Republican Party's Victory 2012 campaign, which is used by GOP officials as a tool to organize around the state for the fall elections.

Since Obama's July 13 remarks at a Virginia rally, Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has organized dozens of such rallies, where small-business owners are invited to vent about Obama's comments on the government's role in assisting businesses in attempts to help them succeed.

John Lorberg speaks about running his Gordonville, Mo. farm Monday morning, July 30, 2012. Lorberg's farm was a stop on the "We Did Build This" tour across Missouri. Victory chair Ed Martin held the rally in response to President Obama's recent comments about small business owners. (Laura Simon)

"Look," Obama said, "if you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own. ... Let me tell you something: There are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help."

Obama has since said the phrase was taken out of context. But the Romney campaign maintains what he said is an indicator that the president is out of touch with the realities of the real-life world of small-business owners.

In Cape Girardeau, the rally was led by Missouri Victory chairman Ed Martin, who is also a Republican candidate for attorney general.

"In America, equal opportunity is always guaranteed, not equal outcomes," Martin said. "It's never been about the government telling us who's going to succeed or who is going to fail. If you have a dream in America, you can build that dream."

Mark Anderson is the owner of Confluent Technology Group, a cable television sales and repair service center in Sikeston, Mo. Anderson told the group he did not build the company by himself, but with the support of his 45 employees and his family. But Anderson is skeptical of government intervening with the business world.

"I see government as an opponent rather than a partner," Anderson said. "I'd really just rather have government leave us alone and allow us to be good stewards of our own resources."

The Romney campaign has held similar events in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Virginia, Ohio, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, New Mexico, Nevada, and New Hampshire.

Obama has responded in television ads that are appearing in six swing states.

"Those ads taking my words about small business out of context -- they're flat-out wrong," Obama says in the commercials. "Of course Americans own their own businesses. Every day, hardworking people sacrifice to meet a payroll, create jobs and make our economy run. And what I said was that we need to stand behind them, as America always has."

smoyers@semissourian.com

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Pertinent address:

475 Stone Haven Lane, Gordonville, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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