I dissected Obama's "worst speech yet" back in April (he hasn't topped it since, though he's come close), so why not write the uplifting companion piece? Romney does most of the heavy lifting for me, taking a rhetorical battering ram to the president's insulting and demeaning "you didn't build that" remarks in Virginia over the weekend. The presumptive Republican nominee hit the trail in Irwin, Pennsylvania yesterday afternoon and just unloaded on his opponent, savaging the president's ubiquitous strawmen and mounting a spirited defense of merit, individual accomplishment and American entrepreneurship. Working from loose notes, Romney appeared to warm to his task, connecting with the gathered crowd in a way that he's struggled to pull off throughout much of the campaign. If yesterday's Mitt Romney continues to show up on the stump, he'll win:
This short clip hardly does the full speech justice. I'll embed the complete remarks below, but here are a few noteworthy bits of the transcript:
[Obama] said this: “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that, somebody else made that happen.” That somebody else is government in his view. He goes on to describe the people who deserve the credit for building this business. And, of course, he describes people who we care very deeply about, who make a difference in our lives, our schoolteachers, fire fighters, people who build roads. We need those things, we value schoolteachers, fire fighters, people who build roads, you really couldn’t have a business if you didn’t have those things. But, you know, we pay for those things. The taxpayers pay for government. It’s not like government just provides those to all of us and we say oh thank you government for doing those things. In fact we pay for them and we benefit from them and we appreciate the work that they do and the sacrifices that are done by people who work in government. But they did not build this business...
We have seen what Obama’s political philosophy brings, and we don’t want any more of it. [Applause] I have a very different view than the President’s. You see, I happen to believe that the kid who studies hard and works hard and gets an ‘A,’ that he achieved that or she achieved that and I give them credit it for doing so. [Applause] I believed the person who worked hard and did a good job and got a promotion deserves credit for having achieved that. I believe that the young person who came up with a new idea that changed the world on the internet deserves credit for having done that. [Applause] And, by the way, I believe that Joe and people around him and all these businesses I met around the country that have grown and thrived, I believe that they and the people who work there, built those enterprises, it is their responsibility, their achievement, and they deserve credit for it. [Applause] The President justifies taking more of what people earn by saying: “look it’s also our system of government that makes things possible for entrepreneurs and innovators and that’s true, but let’s stop and think about the government and what it tells us in its founding document, the Declaration of Independence. It does not say that the government gave us our rights; it said that God gave us our rights—they come with us, not with government...
In another welcome development, Romney also seamlessly folded in a pointed attack on Obama's recent unilateral -- and possibly unlawful -- gutting of the 1996 Clinton/Gingrich welfare reform law:
What he is saying is his justification for a larger and larger government. This is very different, by the way, than the Democratic Party of Bill Clinton that said that the era of big-government was over, that reformed welfare. You heard that story by the way, he is trying to take work out of welfare requirement. It is changing the nature of America, changing the nature of what the Democrats have fought for, and Republicans have fought for. In the past, people of both parties understood that encouraging achievement, encouraging success, encouraging people to lift themselves as high as they can, encouraging entrepreneurs, celebrating success instead of attacking it and denigrating, makes America strong. That’s the right course for this country. His course is extraordinarily foreign.
Meanwhile, the state of the race remains nip-and-tuck. Despite the Obama campaign's tsunami of demonstrably false ads, shameless repetition of baseless charges, and a nearly 3-to-1 swing state spending advantage thus far, the latest batch of battleground polls show virtual ties across the board. Romney and Obama are within the margin of error of one another, with the president below 50 percent in every contested state surveyed. Nationally, the new McClatchy/Marist poll (which initially generated attention for its devastating numbers on Obama's proposed tax hikes) shows Obama leading Romney by two points overall...with a D+7 partisan breakdown. For reasons we've discussed repeatedly, that's an extremely unrealistic sample* for measuring the 2012 electorate. This thing is up for grabs.