CEDAR RAPIDS – Four words – “You didn’t build that” – have sparked road rage on the presidential campaign trail.
While President Obama has accused Mitt Romney’s campaign of misrepresenting the remarks, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee called the comments “very strange and in some respects foreign to the American experience type of philosophy.”
Romney’s reaction wasn’t unique, according to his campaign, which will host nearly 30 news conferences July 25 – including three in Iowa -- featuring entrepreneurs and small business owners who are “deeply offended” by the president’s comment.
Rob Gettemy of Marion, who said he has either been working for an entrepreneur, operating his own businesses or teaching entrepreneurship at the University of Iowa for more than 20 years, said his reaction to Obama’s comment was “a deep concern more than anything that an American president – this could sound harsh – could so misunderstand what’s made America great.”
Gettemy, who will be one of three speakers at a Romney campaign news conference in Cedar Rapids July 25, said the comment confirmed for him that Obama “truly has a world view that says the power of the state is more important than the power of the individual.”
The news conference will be at 2:30 p.m. at the GOP Victory Office, 155 Collins Rd. NE, Suite A.
Obama accused the Romney campaign of “splicing and dicing” his comment. He believes “with all my heart that it is the drive and the ingenuity of Americans who start businesses that lead to their success.”
The Obama campaign insists the remarks have to be understood in the context of the president’s comments about infrastructure: “Somebody invested in roads and bridges. … The Internet didn’t get invented on its own.”
However, to Gettemy and Romney, the context is more problematic than the words themselves.
“This is an ideology which says hey, we're all the same here … that achievement, individual initiative and risk-taking and success are not to be rewarded as they have in the past,” Romney said.
Gettemy doesn’t dispute that everyone, successful or not, has access to the infrastructure the president said he was describing.
“No one would deny you need a basic level of infrastructure to succeed,” he said. “However, in or out of context, his tone had clear derision for those who feel like they are responsible for their own success.”
Gettemy hopes the spirit of the remark stays alive “even if the heat of the specific words Obama used fades away” because he believes the statement “points out the true stark difference in views of the world, the country” between Obama and Romney.
The Obama campaign will have its own news conferences in Sioux City Wednesday and Mason City Thursday as part of a “Made in Iowa” tour with former Lt. Gov. Patty Judge. She will highlight Iowa’s farming and wind energy industries, which are two industries the president has supported.
Judge will be in Sioux City July 25 at 10 a.m. at the Obama field office, 520 14th St., with Rob Hach, Republican Obama supporter, who is the CEO and president of a wind development small business.
July 26, Judge will do a news conference at 11 a.m. at the Mason City Obama field office, 219 N. Federal, with Kirk Kraft, a Republican and former mayor of Clear Lake who oversaw one of the first wind farms in Iowa.
Here are the details on the Romney campaign’s Iowa news conferences:
Cedar Rapids – 2:30 p.m., Victory Office, 155 Collins Rd. NE, Suite A; Rep. Renee Schulte, R-Cedar Rapids, Shawn Graham, owner Clean Cut Property Services Inc., and Rob Gettemy, entrepreneur and instructor of entrepreneurship at University of Iowa
Davenport -- 10:30 a.m., Scott County GOP Office, 311 W. Kimberly Rd., Davenport; Brian Kennedy, president of Woodberry Associates, LLC, Mark Ross, founder, IGO Partners, Delia Meier, senior vice president, Iowa 80 Group
Des Moines – 1 p.m., Victory Office, 2775 86th Street, Urbandale; Al Koch, CEO and president of Henning Construction, David Greenspon, president of Competitive Edge Advertising Specialty Mfg. Company, Dan Moulten, founder of Moulton & Associates, Michael Brown, president/CEO of CrossFit Des MoinesComments: (319) 398-8375; firstname.lastname@example.org