msnbc | August 28, 2012
>>> so each night of the republican national convention has a theme. on thursday night, mitt romney 's big night , the theme is "we believe in america." yesterday was "we can do better," which became unintention fally funny when ron paul fans turned that into a " ron paul with k do better" sign. today's theme is we built it, rhetoric from president obama during a speech of his in virginia on july 13th .
>> if you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. there was a great teacher somewhere in your life. 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.
>> the public builds our national infrastructure and everyone benefits, including businesses. that was what the president said. of course, within seconds of him saying it, his opposition and the campaign clipped his words to make him seem like an anti-business, anti-capitalist attack on american entrepreneurs. we did too build this. tonight at the convention in tampa, there will be "we built it" video packages playing for the crowd. a country singer will sing a song that's called "i built it." and there are business owner "we built it" speakers, four of them. but this has been a tough case to make for the republican campaign. one of tonight's speakers was featured in a romney campaign ad with a "we built it" theme. until it emerged that his i didn't get any help from the government message was undercut by the fact that he did actually get hundreds of thousands of government help from small business administration loans, from government-backed tax exempt bonds and from government contracts . the romney campaign actually took down the ad featuring that business owner after doing a photo on with him. another of tonight's "i didn't get any help from the government i built it" speakers actually got about $15 million in government contracts and millions more in government loans. she is even featured in a video from the small business administration touting the success of the help that federal administration offered to her business.
>> hi, we're an example of what can happen when good ideas connect with high impact resources like the s.p.a.
>> it's so awkward. the republicans have picked the poster child for the success of federal government loans to businesses to speak on their theme night denouncing the idea that government ever helps businesses. awkward, right? it should also be noted that the whole kit and caboodle, the whole convention of which they are denouncing the idea of government helping build anything, the whole convention is taking place in a sports arena for which roughly 2/3 of the financing was put up by the government. theme nights are a useful thing for driving home political messages. but what the message is that gets driven home, sometimes depends as much on the details as it does on the signage. chris hayes , let me bring you in on this. the facts have been getting in the way of the "we built it" storyline. photo on after photo on of these business owners have revealed that all of these benefits did benefit from something that the government had done specifically for their business. what is the political power of this line from the republicans that survives the hypocrisy and embarrassment that comes up?
>> it's a bizarre politics of resentiment. because it is hard to be a small business owner. it's hard to be a coal miner. it's hard to be a domestic worker. doing work is difficult. and a certain class of people who are small business owners feel very imperilled by the tenuous nature of our economic recovery. and it's a way of trying to appeal to this kind of resentment. the problem is that there's two levels at which it's ridiculous. one level are the specific programs which keep cropping up. let's note the ultimate irony here. mitt romney 's biography point in his resume about turning around the olympics in salt lake city that was about $1.3 billion of federal money, about twice what we spent at atlanta, more than we had ever spent on an olympics, so much that john mccain , fiscal hawk, took to the floor to denounce the whole thing. mitt romney said i know what to do, go where the money is and washington is where the money is. aside from these specific examples of hypocrisy, the broader theme is we're all part of a social contract living in an amazing civilization, which is america in the 21st century , which has things like safety and security and roads and all the basic underpinnings of what allows for flourishing private enterprise . it's not even a controversial point. the point the president was making is so basic, i don't even think anyone actually disagrees with that. it's just another way of motivating the sense of resentment that this president doesn't understand you, and if you're feeling squeezed right now, which a lot of americans are, he doesn't care.
>> i will also know that the same hypocrisy problem applies to the republicans and their speakers, but also to the outside groups, americans for prosperity , the big astroturf prosperity group is hosting a salute to entrepreneurs. and the entrepreneurs they are saluting are david cook and art pope, both of whom inherited businesses from their dads. they picked good parents.