After two consecutive days of strong attacks on President Obama for his comments touting government's role in fostering new businesses, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's message was decidedly more muddled on Thursday when a local television station here reported that one of the local entrepreneurs selected to illustrate Romney's point got help from local government.
On a campaign stop, Romney sought to rebut Obama by highlighting the success of an auto repair shop started by a local entrepreneur. "This is not the result of government," Romney told reporters, referring to Middlesex Truck & Coach after he toured the shop. "This is the result of people who take risk, who have dreams, who build for themselves and for their families."
Company owner Brian Maloney, 69, agreed with Romney's assessment. "I take umbrage at the suggestion that people don't start and build businesses," Maloney said. "I started out with 500 bucks and worked with my hands to afford grad school at night. My wife supported me. Started a little body shop and was able to bring together people, one at a time."
But in an interview with Boston-based reporter Jon Keller of WBZ-TV, Maloney acknowledged that his business received some government help. "The only way I was able to come here, because I had no money, was with an industrial revenue bond," Maloney said in the interview. Industrial revenue bonds are typically issued by local and state governments to attract new business to an area. They create low-interest loans for new development and startups.
Romney went aggressively on the offensive against the president this week, attacking him for saying that people who started their own businesses "didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen."
The presumptive GOP nominee said Thursday, "Now I know there are some people who think what the president said was just a gaffe. It wasn't a gaffe. It was instead his ideology. The president does in fact believe that people who build enterprises like this really aren't responsible for it, but in fact a collective success of the whole society that somehow builds enterprises like this."
In a statement, Obama campaign spokesman Lis Smith argued that the point the president was making on Friday is similar to statements Romney himself has made. "As President Obama said, 'When we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together' - a remark Mitt Romney himself says he agrees with on the campaign trail." Romney took Obama's words out of context, she said, to try to "turn it into a political attack."