Rick Santorum: RNC Botched ‘You Didn’t Build That’

AP

Rick Santorum said Thursday that Republicans squandered an opportunity to really exploit an out-of-context quote from President Barack Obama that took on a life of its own in last year’s campaign. 

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney tried desperately last year to make hay out of a portion of an Obama stump speech in which he said, “if you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that.” The full context of the speech clearly shows that Obama wasn’t really suggesting what Romney’s campaign claimed, but Republicans seized the line and even made it the theme of the opening night of the party’s national convention. 

But that’s where Romney and the GOP blew it, Santorum said. Instead of trotting out business owners at the convention, the former Pennsylvania senator argued, the party should have featured rank-and-file workers. 

“One after another, they talked about the business they had built. But not a single—not a single —factory worker went out there,” Santorum said at the Faith & Freedom Coalition conference in Washington, as quoted by Politico. “Not a single janitor, waitress or person who worked in that company! We didn’t care about them. You know what? They built that company too! And we should have had them on that stage.”

A poll conducted in the late stages of the 2012 campaign showed that the GOP’s emphasis on “you didn’t build that” was a dud. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Kludt is a reporter for Talking Points Memo based in New York City, covering media and national affairs. Originally from South Dakota, Tom joined TPM as an intern in late-2011 and became a staff member during the 2012 election. He can be reached at tom@talkingpointsmemo.com.
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