TAMPA — We’re only hours into the 2012 Republican National Convention, but it’s already clear that one message is being pushed hard and resonating with the audience: “We Built It.”
Last month, Mitt Romney’s campaign seized on remarks in which President Obama uttered he now infamous words, “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” (Read an analysis of the fuller context here.) Now, it’s becoming a big theme of the 2012 convention.
Before the evening’s speeches started today, convention staff was handing out signs reading “We Built It” — some printed, some looking hand made. Chants of “We Built It” broke out regularly, similar to the “Drill Baby Drill” chants that echoed through the convention hall in 2008.
Every speaker at the podium delivered a variation of the attack line and the convention had small business owners address the convention and discuss how they built their businesses. Between speakers, jumbo screens broadcast videos highlighting Obama’s statement, and the crowd booed when they heard the words “you didn’t build that.”
It’s a strong message, because millions of Americans are small business owners, and they are a more sympathetic symbol of capitalism than faceless corporations. It also plays well into a central theme of Romney’s campaign, which is that he knows how the economy works because of his private sector experience.