Obama Fights Back Against 'You Didn't Build That' Attacks

By AMY WALTER ( @amyewalter ), ELIZABETH HARTFIELD ( @LizHartfield ) and CHRIS GOOD ( @c_good )


  • OBAMA GOES POSITIVE- SORT OF: After weeks of negative - or "contrast" ads, as the campaign calls them - Team Obama puts out a kinder, gentler TV spot. Speaking straight to camera, without grainy photos or ominous background music, the president says, "It's a choice between two very different plans for our country." But he also makes sure to get in a few digs at Romney on his economic plan. "Gov. Romney's plan would cut taxes for the folks at the very top, roll back regulations on big banks, and he says that if we do our economy will grow and everyone will benefit. But you know what, we tried that top down approach, it's what caused the mess in the first place." Will we see Romney - or a family member - to camera soon too? http://bit.ly/Qt49tb
  • SOLYNDRA STICKS AROUND:ABC's Devin Dwyer and Mary Bruce report from the West Coast: "President Obama tonight hobnobbed with 60 of his wealthiest campaign supporters, including two figures at the center of the Solyndra loan controversy. Steve Westly, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist, was one of the first to raise red flags about the administration's support for a $500 million loan to Solyndra, writing directly to senior Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett to raise concerns about the company's viability ahead of the president's high-profile visit in 2010. Matt Rogers, a former senior adviser at the Department of Energy, played a key role in the loan approval process under the stimulus plan. http://abcn.ws/NHlLhv
  • THE FIGHT FOR FOREIGN-POLICY CRED: Gov. Romney speaks to the VFW convention in Reno this afternoon, a day after President Obama "used his appearance before the veterans group to paint his rival as a national security neophyte with a dangerous affinity for failed policies of the past." ( http://nyti.ms/LKPnfn) In a conference call yesterday, Obama strategist Robert Gibbs prebutted Romney's remarks, saying: "I think Mitt Romney owes it to the American people to say where he stands on these important issues as he's trying out to be leader of the free world." Gibbs then began a lengthy discussion about how much more substantive Mr. Obama's 2008 foreign trip was in comparison with Mr. Romney's itinerary.
  • ROMNEY'S FOREIGN-POLICY VISION: A Romney adviser tells "The Note" that Gov. Romney will offer his vision for ensuring the next century is an American century. He'll outline how the President has relinquished our leadership role in the world, and how we're just now reaping the consequences.


Ten days after Mitt Romney turned President Obama's remarks about public investment in infrastructure into an attack on the president's support for American free enterprise system, Team Obama is finally pushing back.

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 … 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," Obama said.

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.

The RNC and the Romney campaign have been relentless in pushing the "you didn't build this" meme in ads, speeches and campaign videos. A Romney business roundtable meeting in California yesterday featured the slogan "We Did Build It." http://abcn.ws/MD4Yx2

The Obama campaign, it seems, is not going to take it anymore.

At a campaign fundraising event in Oakland, Calif., Obama hit back at Romney for "splicing and dicing" his words. "I believe with all my heart that it is the drive and the ingenuity of Americans who start businesses that lead to their success. I always have and I always will," he said.

This morning, Obama's deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter "debunks distortions" and defends the Obama record on small business in a new video. http://bit.ly/OWfnQF

Is Obama's engagement a sign that they fear the attacks are working?

A USA/Today Gallup poll found that a "record number of Americans express skepticism about the activist role of government Obama espouses; 61% say the government is trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses. That's the highest number since Gallup began asking the question in 1992." http://usat.ly/OkJyTr

Or are they simply operating under the rules learned in the 2004 "Swift Boat" attacks - don't let any attack, no matter how seemingly out of context, go unanswered? And, with the economy continuing to struggle, Obama can't afford to give Romney any opportunity to go on the offense on the issue of jobs.

Either way, it's interesting to note the difference between how the Obama and Romney campaigns have dealt with recent attacks. Romney, of course, has yet to put the issue of his tax records to bed, but seems content to ride out the storm. Obama, meanwhile, has decided to wade into the fight.

OFA'S VIDEO PUSHBACK. Obama for America's new web video pushes back on the "you didn't build that attacks." Deputy Campaign Manager Stephanie Cutter says, per the press release: "Americans have a choice in this election between two fundamentally different visions of how to grow the economy, create middle-class jobs and pay down the debt. President Obama believes individuals build their businesses through hard work and initiative, with the public and private sectors working together to create a climate that helps them grow. He believes the only way to create an economy built to last is to build it from the middle out, not the top down." http://ofa.bo/2knKds

RNC WEB VIDEO: 'THESE AREN'T GAFFES.' The RNC also releases a new web video today titled, "These Aren't Gaffes." "The more we hear from President Obama about the economy the more we realize that he doesn't understand what it takes to get America working again," says RNC Chairman Reince Priebus. "President Obama believes that 'the private sector is doing fine' and entrepreneurs are successful because of government efforts, not their individual hard work and sacrifice. It is becoming clearer by the day that these aren't gaffes, this is what President Obama believes." http://bit.ly/PaS3Tk

USA TODAY/GALLUP POLL SHOWS ROMNEY AHEAD ON ECONOMY. A new poll out from USA Today and Gallup shows good news for Romney. 63% of those surveyed say that Romney's background in business, including his time at Bain Capital, would result in him making good economic decisions as President, as compared to 29% who said it would not. Republicans also express more enthusiasm about voting than Democrats; 51 percent of Republicans and Republican leaning Independents say they're more enthusiastic about the election. 43% of Democrats and Democratic leaning Independents say they're less enthusiastic than usual. The poll has some good news for Obama too though: by 2 to 1 he's rated as more likable than Romney. http://usat.ly/OjwGwY


ABC's RICK KLEIN: The tragic events in the Colorado movie theater were fortuitously timed for the Romney campaign. Bain debates and tax returns moved back on the national priority list, and any talk of choosing a running mate before the Olympics is gone now, replaced by the more sensible - albeit traditional - August selection. But to the extent that there's room for much beyond the shooting this week, Romney foreign forays, starting with today's VFW speech in Reno, are important for a candidate with little experience on the international stage. Romney needs to broaden his critique of Obama to something that includes national security and foreign policy; save for some debate one-liners, that hasn't happened yet.


With Elizabeth Hartfield ( @LizHartfield)

NEW ABC/YAHOO! VIDEO: A BRIEF HISTORY OF OBAMA GOING NEGATIVE. In the latest episode of the ABC/Yahoo! Power Players Series "Political Punch" ABC's Jake Tapper takes a look back at Obama's history of negative campaigning. A recent study of a 2-week period ending in July found that about 89 percent of Obama's ads carried an anti-Romney message and 94 percent of Romney's ads an anti-Obama message; 2012 is on pace to become the most negative campaign cycle ever. But just how far back does Obama's negative campaigning go? And how down and dirty were the ads of 2008 compared with today's? WATCH HERE: http://yhoo.it/NGwCZ7

OBAMA'S BULK SIZE ENDORSEMENT: ABC's Devin Dwyer reports, 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." http://abcn.ws/MEkwir

GOV. CUOMO'S 2016 PREP? The New York Times' Danny Hakim reports: "Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's administration, already drawing attention for its focus on secrecy, has now begun editing his record as New York attorney general, sending aides to the state archives to remove key documents from public view. The review of the archived material comes at a time when Mr. Cuomo is being much discussed as a 2016 presidential candidate. Many public figures with national ambitions have been concerned about being tripped up by old documents; when Mitt Romney left the governorship in Massachusetts, his administration wiped all e-mail from the government server and allowed his top aides to buy their work hard drives, so no electronic record remained. http://nyti.ms/MCVqSU

OBAMA REMEMBERS SALLY RIDE. Yahoo!'s Olivier Knox reports, President Barack Obama mourned the death of NASA astronaut Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, calling her "a national hero and powerful role model"-especially for young girls. Obama said he and First Lady Michelle Obama were "deeply saddened" by Ride's passing from pancreatic cancer at age 61. "As the first American woman to travel into space, Sally was a national hero and a powerful role model," the president said in a written statement. "She inspired generations of young girls to reach for the stars and later fought tirelessly to help them get there by advocating for a greater focus on science and math in our schools." http://abcn.ws/LJci66

EDUCATION DEPT. INTRODUCES COLLEGE COST 'WINDOW STICKERS.' ABC's Matt Larotonda reports, the Department of Education has released a new tool it says will help consumers understand the costs of higher education before making the choice of whether, and where, to enroll. Dubbed the "Shopping Sheet," the Obama administration introduced today nationally standardized financial aid award letters they say will lay out all costs associated with a particular school, while tailored to the individual student. Loan interest rates, scholarship options, housing rent, food, books, and veterans benefits will all be displayed on this single form, serving as a calculator. http://abcn.ws/OkEMph

OBAMA ANNOUNCES VALOR.DEFENSE.GOV. ABC's Jake Tapper reports, President Obama announced on Monday that later this week the federal government will launch a website to try to reduce the number of Americans fraudulently claiming to have been awarded medals by the military, a response to the June ruling by the Supreme Court that the "Stolen Valor" law was unconstitutional…. White House officials have worked with the military to compile and publish information about those who have received the military's two highest awards for valor - Medals of Honor and Service Crosses - since Sept. 11, 2001. The website, valor.defense.gov, is scheduled to launch Wednesday. http://abcn.ws/MECmWd

DIANNE FEINSTEIN: SOMEONE AT WHITE HOUSE IS BEHIND INTEL LEAKS. The Hill's Meghashyram Mali reports: "Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Monday that the White House was responsible for the recent leaks of classified information. 'I think the White House has to understand that some of this is coming from their ranks,' Feinstein said in an address at the World Affairs Council, the Associated Press first reported. Feinstein said she was certain that President Obama had not disclosed any of the classified intelligence, but believed others in the administration were responsible." http://bit.ly/PDUb6O

IRS SAYS IT WILL EXAMINE RULES FOR NON-PROFIT POLITICAL ACTIVITY. Bloomberg's Julie Bykowicz reports: "The Internal Revenue Service will consider changing the regulations governing nonprofit 'social welfare' groups that are buying millions of dollars in television ads to try to influence the presidential election and other races. A three-paragraph letter dated July 17 represents the first time the IRS is acknowledging potential problems with political spending by such nonprofits, said David Vance, a spokesman for the Campaign Legal Center." http://bloom.bg/PBhjmy

OUTSIDE MONEY BAN IN MASS. SENATE RACE IS WORKING, BUT AT WHAT PRICE? Yahoo!'s Rachel Rose Hartman and Chris Moody report, What's one way to blunt the effects of outside interest groups on politics? Ban them. That's what Republican Sen. Scott Brown and Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren did in their Massachusetts Senate race. The two candidates struck a unique deal in January to penalize one another if any outside group bought advertising to influence their race-and it has worked. Maybe too well. Consultants and political observers now question whether the ban has come at an electoral price. http://abcn.ws/MFbp0J

Roll Call's Joshua Miller reports: "A record number of openly gay candidates are running for Congress this cycle, and the reaction, among a huge swath of voters, has been a collective yawn. 'It's really becoming a nonissue,' Democratic consultant Steve Elmendorf explained. 'If you look at a lot of these districts where people are running, the fact that they are gay is not really that important to the campaign.' All across the country, serious contenders for Congress who are openly gay — Democratic and Republican — said their sexual identity plays almost no role in their election efforts. http://bit.ly/OV3Voz


With Arlette Saenz ( @arlettesaenz)

RUBIO HITS THE TRAIL FOR ROMNEY. Sen. Marco Rubio will campaign solo on behalf of Mitt Romney for the first time Saturday in Nevada and Colorado, stepping into a new, high-profile surrogacy role, ABC News learned. Rubio, who briefly lived in Las Vegas as a child, will hold a rally at his elementary school in Las Vegas Saturday followed by a rally in Denver. He will also participate in campaign finance events while on the trip. http://abcn.ws/SRIhGv

RUBIO ENDORSES SCOTT BROWN. Rubio sent an e-mail to supporters of his Reclaim America PAC Monday announcing his support of Scott Brown in the Massachusetts Senate race over Elizabeth Warren, whom he described as an "ultra-liberal backed by extreme big-government interests. "Scott and I don't agree on everything, but I know Scott is a dedicated husband, loving father, and principled pub servant," Rubio wrote. "He believes in cutting spending, reining in our debt, balancing our budget, and repealing Obamacare."

HOW '72 GUIDES ROMNEY'S PROCESS. The New York Times' Lawrence Altman details how George McGovern's hasty and calamitous VP pick in 1972 has motivated every presidential candidate since then to ensure there are no surprises in a running mate. "Scott Lilly was a young member of Senator George McGovern's presidential campaign staff in the summer of 1972, and he remembers the satisfaction he felt when Mr. McGovern chose Mr. Lilly's home-state senator to be the Democratic Party's vice-presidential candidate. But a few days after the convention that nominated Mr. McGovern and his running mate, Senator Thomas F. Eagleton of Missouri, Mr. Lilly said, he came to a realization. 'It suddenly struck me out of the blue that they didn't know,' he said, that the decision to pick Mr. Eagleton had been made without some crucial facts," Altman wrote. "And he was right. The information he had felt obligated to share with a top campaign aide several weeks before - that Mr. Eagleton had been hospitalized for mental health issues - had never been passed on. Mr. Lilly's tip 'did not register,' the aide, Frank Mankiewicz, said in an interview this year. 'It was a very hectic time. I must have had not two things on my mind, but maybe 80.'" http://nyti.ms/NSPF0T

CHRISTIE: FOCUS ON VICTIMS, NOT GUN CONTROL New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said Monday that he is "disturbed" by politicians "grandstanding about gun laws" in the wake of the Aurora tragedy and said instead the focus should be on helping the survivors and families who lost loved ones cope with the aftermath of the tragedy, PolitickerNJ's Matthew Arco reported. " In the immediate wake of the movie theatre massacre in Colorado that left 12 people dead and nearly 60 others injured, people should be thinking about mourning the loss of innocent lives, not 'scoring political points' in an election year, Gov. Chris Christie said," Arco wrote. "'I am a little bit disturbed by politicians who in the immediate aftermath of this type of tragedy, try to grandstand on it, and I'm not going to be one of those people,' Christie said." http://bit.ly/MFgb2g

McDONNELL REQUESTS FEDERAL AID: The Washington Post's Anita Kumar reports that Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell requested federal disaster aid to respond to the derecho storm that impacted the state weeks ago. "Fifteen people died in Virginia. Millions of others suffered property damage or lost power for extended periods of time during a record heat wave," Kumar writes. "'The historic derecho storm and the follow-up thunderstorms required extraordinary response and recovery efforts at the local and state levels,' McDonnell said in a statement. '… Federal assistance is vitally important to help our localities recover significant costs associated with responding to the storms and keeping our citizens safe.'" http://wapo.st/PDUChi


@robportman Thx Anthony-means a lot coming from you RT @MunozFoundation: Happy 26th Anniversary @robportman & Jane! (A few days late-Hope it was great)

@jebbush Who invented the internet? Give credit where it's due: http://ow.ly/cqudD

@governorva RT @GRChamber Support our Veterans, Tomorrow, at the Governor's Mansion @WorldTeamSports #rva #s2ssbike http://conta.cc/MAD5pz

@kellyayotte Our troops are not a bargaining chip. Commander in Chief needs to lead on #defense sequestration. http://reut.rs/QfSRts

@govmikehuckabee RSVP for Chick Fil-A Appreciation Day on Aug 1. Show your support for their stand on the issues! http://buff.ly/OjOAzE


GOP WEB VIDEO: OHIO BUSINESS OWNER VS. 'TAXATION NATION.' With President Obama calling for higher taxes on top earners, House GOP Whip Kevin McCarthy releases a web video today featuring Ohio business owner Arnie Kaufman, president of Woodhill Supply, Inc., who says: "It seems so obvious to me that that's not the best thing in the long run. If you want to generate more taxes over a long period of time, you make it easier for businesses to expand … it has the opposite effect when you raise taxes. That tax money comes from the business-there's no other way to get it." http://bit.ly/Os6iPF

SENATE ADS: DEMOCRATIC PAC ATTACK. The Democratic super PACs Majority PAC and American Bridge unveiled three new TV ads hitting GOP Senate candidates in Virginia, Wisconsin, and North Dakota. In Virginia, they call former Sen. George Allen a "big spender" who voted for "imported fire ants, Alaskan berry research, and DNA study of bears." In Wisconsin, the groups hit Eric Hovde and Tommy Thompson for their work as a fund manager and lobbyist, respectively. In North Dakota, they accuse Rep. Rick Berg of "using his mom" to obfuscate his record on Medicare. Majority PAC will spend "high six figures" to air them, according to a spokesman. See all three ads here: http://bit.ly/MU6Iir , http://bit.ly/M6Wbpl , http://bit.ly/NsWOJr


@CPHeinze Nice T-Paw caption challenge. http://bit.ly/Qwjwk

@HotlineReid Candidate running against Rep. Mike Pompeo in Kansas has changed his name to Thomas Jefferson. Better than dot com? #HotlineSort

@timothypmurphy The Columbia Heights IHOP has become a campaign issue in a Texas congressional race, for some reason: http://bit.ly/OW8oY6

@cbellantoni Voter on 2012: "If you have 2 sandwiches & one's got salami & one's got no meat, so you at least take 1 w/ piece of meat on it"

@joshtpm Fascinating/sobering interactive map of HIV infection rate across the US http://aidsvu.org/map

@EliLake New UN report says US intel/ special ops programs in #Somaliabreak UN arms embargo US is supposed to enforce http://t.co/L76vOf2t

@tromney Fav part of my commute to work. Boston in summer = awesomeness instagr.am/p/Ndn68PELhg/

@thefix How super PACs are saving Mitt Romney. ow.ly/cshj5


-President Obama will speak at a campaign event in Portland, Ore., and hold two campaign events at a private residence in Seattle, Wash.

-First Lady Michelle Obama will speak to grassroots supporters in Westerville, Ohio, and Dayton, Ohio

-Mitt Romney will speak at the VFW National Convention in Reno, Nev.

Check out The Note's Futures Calendar: http://abcn.ws/ZI9gV