David Cranston has never been a fan of President Barack Obama.
But even so, Cranston said he’s never been angry at Obama. Not really.
Until two weeks ago. He’s mad, now.
Cranston is owner of Cranston Material Handling, a Pittsburgh-based manufacturing supply company with seven employees. He said he became angry when he heard Obama tell supporters that small businesses in America owed part of their success to government and public support.
“There was no context in there where he gave us — as the risk-takers, the small business owners and the backbone of the economy — any credit,” Cranston said. “That made me angry.”
Speaking two weeks ago to a crowd of supporters in Virginia, Obama said, “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”
Cranston was one of several Pennsylvania small business owners who criticized the president’s remarks during a surrogate event for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.
Romney seized upon Obama’s comments in an attempt to make the president appear out-of-touch with the private sector.
Obama’s campaign has responded by accusing Republicans of taking the comments out of context. The campaign says the president was referring to things such as roads and infrastructure when he said “you didn’t build that,” indicating businesses everywhere benefit from taxes and public investment.
“I think they are clearly taking what he said out of context,” said Rob Teplitz, the Democratic candidate for the 15th state senatorial district in Pennsylvania — which includes Harrisburg. “To say that he is not fighting for small businesses and middle class families is just patently false.”
Teplitz was acting as a surrogate for the Obama campaign in responding to the attacks launched by small business owners in the capital Wednesday.
Teplitz pointed to the president’s support for tax cuts to small businesses and middle-class families, which, he said, Obama would continue in his second term.
Even if the comments are being taken out of context, the larger point remains, said Kevin Shivers, state director of thePennsylvania Federation of Independent Businesses, which helped organize the Romney event Wednesday.
The point is government does nothing — including building roads and infrastructure — without taking from the success of the private sector.
“Government didn’t do that,” Shivers said, flipping the Obama quote on its head. “Those were services that were built by contractors and others who pay taxes. Those taxes were created out of wealth, that wealth was derived from a job and that job was made available by a job-creator.”
The 25 million small businesses in the country employ more than half of the American work force, according to the Small Business Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Labor. The government defines a small business as having fewer than 500 employees.