President Obama is getting some help defending his record toward small businesses from a major player in the corporate world.
Former Costco CEO and co-founder Jim Sinegal endorsed the president’s economic policies and bid for a second term in an email message Monday night to be blasted out by the Obama campaign.
The show of support comes amid an onslaught of attacks by Republicans that paint Obama as anti-business, including a new TV ad by presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney that uses out-of-context remarks by the president to suggest he has denigrated small business owners’ success.
“You might be seeing some ads or hearing some folks say that President Obama doesn’t support small business owners,” Sinegal wrote. “But he understands that small businesses grow and prosper because of individual initiative – because entrepreneurs like you and me do the hard work it takes, and we can’t do it alone.”
Speaking in Roanoke, Va., earlier this month, Obama pushed the importance of continued government investments in public services and infrastructure that many U.S. businesses rely on to function.
“If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help,” Obama said. “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.”
Republicans have seized on the line “you didn’t build that” to falsely claim that Obama was speaking directly to business owners about their businesses.
Making subtle reference to Obama’s comment, Sinegal wrote supportively, “Thanks to a strong nationwide transportation system and internal infrastructure, we’ve opened warehouses across the country and around the world.”
“I’m proud to support him in this election,” he wrote. “Don’t let Mitt Romney’s misleading ads or false attacks tell you otherwise – President Obama’s support for small business owners is unwavering.”
Sinegal’s support for Obama does not come as a surprise. A longtime and generous Democratic donor, he maxed out his personal financial contribution to Obama in 2008 and will host the president Tuesday at his Hunts Point, Wash., home for two high-dollar fundraisers for the 2012 campaign. Sinegal also publicly advocated for Obama’s health care law at the height of debate in 2009.
The email to Obama supporters, and an accompanying campaign Web video that illustrates how Romney has “tampered” with Obama’s remarks, suggested the president’s team of strategists see the Republican offensive as a potential threat that needs to be neutralized.
Costco is the nation’s second-largest retailer behind Walmart, with 605 stores and 160,000 employees. Sinegal founded it in 1983.