Texas Gov. Rick Perry takes President Obama to task in a new TV ad for recently suggesting — in Perry’s words — that “Americans are lazy.”
“Can you believe that? That’s what our president thinks is wrong with America? That Americans are lazy? That’s pathetic,” Perry says in the spot that’s airing in Iowa and New Hampshire.
The only problem: the full context of Obama’s remarks made Saturday during a meeting of CEOs in Honolulu indicates he wasn’t suggesting that at all.
Boeing CEO James McNerney asked Obama about his thinking on the perception by some countries of “impediments to investment” in the U.S.
Obama replied that “we’ve been a little bit lazy” about actively trying to attract private foreign investors to U.S. soil — referring broadly to American government and business sectors, not the American people themselves.
Obama’s comments in full:
“I think it’s important to remember that the United States is still the largest recipient of foreign investment in the world. And there are a lot of things that make foreign investors see the U.S. as a great opportunity — our stability, our openness, our innovative free market culture.
But we’ve been a little bit lazy, I think, over the last couple of decades. We’ve kind of taken for granted — well, people will want to come here and we aren’t out there hungry, selling America and trying to attract new business into America. And so one of things that my administration has done is set up something called SelectUSA that organizes all the government agencies to work with state and local governments where they’re seeking assistance from us, to go out there and make it easier for foreign investors to build a plant in the United States and put outstanding U.S. workers back to work in the United States of America.
And we think that we can do much better than we’re doing right now. Because of our federalist system, sometimes a foreign investor comes in and they’ve got to navigate not only federal rules, but they’ve also got to navigate state and local governments that may have their own sets of interests. Being able to create if not a one-stop shop, then at least no more than a couple of stops for people to be able to come into the United States and make investments, that’s something that we want to encourage.”
ABC News’ Sarah Parnass contributed to this report.