By Michael Van Sickler, Tampa Bay Times
TAMPA -- Two local business owners the Mitt Romney campaign tapped on Wednesday to speak out against President Barack Obama and government interference couldn't have been more contradictory choices to speak out on the topic.
The point of the 11 a.m. news conference was to stress that small business owners succeed because of their own grit and determination and don't need government to do it. It's part of a Romney campaign line of attack that's tring to capitalize on comments Obama made in July 13 speech. Obama was talking about how even the most successful business owners didn't do it completely alone, that they were helped by others, including those in government.
The Romney campaign is using a snippet of the speech to suggest that Obama is instead saying that government is solely responsible for the success of private busines owners. That's not so. Obama isn't anywhere close to saying that. But in TV ads, that's the point Romney is making.
One problem with having Ramos and Smith, both registered Republicans, as speakers on this topic: they both said they didn't see the entire Obama speech that they find so personally insulting. Ramos said he later read the complete trancript, but couldn't remember from where he got it. Smith acknowledged she saw only news reports of the speech, either on NBC or FoxNews.
But the other, more puzzling problem the two have for this particular Romney message is that rather than wanting to get out of the way of big government, Smith and Ramos have embraced it and benefitted from it greatly. They just won't admit it.
The A.D. Morgan Corporation employs 50 people and has annual revenues of about $80 million, according to its website. The company lists more than 130 projects and developments. Impressive, no doubt. But the list is nearly all government projects. (One of the few not to be: the Poynter Institute for Media Studies). From the Sumter County jail expansion, Woodlawn Elementary School, the library at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, interior sign at James Haley Veterans Hospital, the Plant City Courthouse, a Florida Department of Transportation weigh station, the projects that have made A.D. Morgan the success it is have been government, big and small, state and local.
Smith didn't see that as a contradiction to her message that government didn't help her.
In the Air Force for 24 years, Ramos dismissed the role it played in providing him the training and expertise to run his business today.
"It wasn't handed to me," Ramos said. "I worked my butt off. My military experience taught me integrity. But that didn't come from the government."