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Obama claims Romney 'twisted' his words on 'you didn't build that'

 

President Obama is now claiming Mitt Romney "twisted" his words by focusing on the now-infamous "you didn't build that" quote from earlier this month, telling a California crowd Monday that the line was taken out of context. 

Speaking in Oakland Monday night, he said Romney knowingly "twisted my words around" to imply he didn't care about small business. 

The fundraiser comments marked the latest effort by the Obama campaign to claim Romney pulled his quote out of context. The president is trying to douse the still-simmering controversy over his ill-phrased remarks on business in America, after taking a short hiatus from campaigning out of respect for the victims of the Colorado mass shooting, as did Romney. The Obama campaign released a web video titled "Tampered" on Monday that made the same point. 

However, the campaign did not initially mount this argument. In the days immediately following the comments, in which the president suggested businesses owe their success in large part to government, the campaign defended the president's remarks -- without claiming they were taken out of context. 

The Republican National Committee continued to hammer the quote on Tuesday, releasing a web video that included that and other recent Obama remarks on the economy. The video said: "These aren't gaffes. This is what Obama believes." 

Here's what the president originally said in Roanoke, Va.: 

"If you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own. You didn't get there on your own. I'm always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something -- there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. 

"If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn't get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet." 

Obama and his team are claiming the "that" was in reference to roads and bridges. Republicans have claimed he was talking about the businesses themselves. 

Regardless, Republicans have also taken issue with the entire arc of the speech, not just the "you didn't build that line." 

"The context is worse than the quote," Romney told CNBC, in an interview that was tweeted out by the Republican National Committee. 

"The context, he says, you know, you think you've been successful because you're smart, but he says a lot of people are smart. You think you've been successful because you work hard, a lot of people work hard. This is an ideology which says hey, we're all the same here, we ought to take from all and give to one another and that achievement, individual initiative and risk-taking and success are not to be rewarded as they have in the past," Romney said. "It's a very strange and, in some respects, foreign to the American experience type of philosophy."