The Romney campaign has finally found a way to seize the initiative, using President Obama’s own gaffe about small businesses to generate a sustained attack that clearly has stoked fear in the Obama campaign.
After weeks of playing defense against charges that he is a reckless corporate raider who possibly cheats on his taxes, Romney has finally found a way to reverse the momentum.
The Romney attacks may particularly sting because the gaffe sounds like an accidental revelation of Obama’s true feelings.
Obama, who blundered by telling business owners “you didn’t build that” and listing the ways he thinks government helped create people’s businesses, appears to have revived all by himself concerns about the commitment to capitalism of the man who famously told small businessman Joe the Plumber about the need to “spread the wealth around.” His comments threaten to unravel a carefully scripted Obama campaign theme that touts his support for the middle class and small business.
Obama is so threatened by Romney’s attack that he took the highly unusual step of cutting an ad to try to clean up the mess.
Obama’s surrogates are desperately defending him, accusing the Romney campaign of lying about Obama’s remarks. Obama raised the issue all on his own during a campaign event in Seattle Tuesday night:
The one thing I do have no patience for is this argument that somehow what I’m criticizing is success. That’s an argument you hear from the other side, “Oh, he wants to punish success.” I want to promote success.
The Romney campaign is relentlessly pounding away.
Romney himself appeared on CNBC to broaden the attack, referencing deeper concerns about Obama by accusing him of harboring a “foreign to the American experience type of philosophy.”
Romney’s website blares “You did build it” and the campaign has put up it’s own ad, “These Hands,” rebutting the argument that central planning is responsible for the success of small business.
Obama’s gaffe directly interferes with the current effort by the White House to pound Republicans – who want the Bush tax cuts for high earners extended – as guardians of the wealthy, and to portray Obama as the defender of the middle class.
The White House has for months been touting various Obama policies it says are designed to help the middle class, only to have Obama himself call his own commitment to entrepreneurship into question.