WEST CHESTER – Both major presidential campaigns stopped by the historic Chester County Courthouse steps on Thursday to discuss small businesses and President Obama’s recent remarks on how they are built around the country.
Recently, Obama was talking about small business owners and their reliance on infrastructure and the capitalist system to succeed. During the comments, he stated that “if you have a small business, you didn’t build that.”
His campaign has repeatedly stated that he was referencing the infrastructure and not the businesses. His surrogates continued that argument on Thursday. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, and his campaign have pounced on the president’s comments, saying he does not believe small business owners create their own successes. “Romney is taking the president out of context,” said George Badey, the Democratic candidate for the U.S. House in the 7th District running against Republican Patrick Meehan. “You need infrastructure to build businesses. It is provided by the common society we all live in. Romney’s attacks are indicative of what is so wrong with American politics.”
During the Republican rally in which a Romney campaign bus stopped by, Chester County Republican Committee Chairman Val DiGiorgio said he believes the president’s comments about small business are a key issue in the campaign, because it shows how he feels about building the private sector and creating jobs. “Every action this administration has made is in an attempt to show that we are better off with omnipresent government making decisions instead of the individual,” DiGiorgio said.
The Republican rally immediately followed the Democratic rally on the courthouse steps, despite the fact that the GOP event was planned first. West Chester Mayor Carolyn Committa, who owns a small business, spoke at the Democratic rally and said she has benefitted from small business tax credits created by Obama. She added that small business owners need all of the help they can get to survive in this economy.
Badey, who took ample opportunities during his speech to attack Meehan, added that the payroll tax cuts introduced by Obama helped many middle-class workers save money. Chester County Commissioner Ryan Costello, who is also the chairman of the Romney for Chester County campaign, said the upcoming election will be about a clear choice between whether voters favor the private or public sector.
He said Romney has experience as a business owner and has proven to be successful in the private economy. He added that Obama believes government can best spend the public’s money. The GOP had two small business owners speak about what they have done to build their own businesses. Ted Delgaizo, president of Main Line Engineering in Uwchlan, said he was insulted by the president’s comments. “I felt like he was mocking small business owners and saying that the American dream is not about small businesses and the individual, but about government,” Delgaizo said.
Sam Cohen, owner of The Iron Shop in Broomall, said Romney has visited his business twice and he believes the former governor understands small business and knows what it means to take risks and make a payroll. According to a federal database, the Iron Shop is currently a registered federal contractor.
Attendance at both rallies was modest, with about five people attending the Democratic gathering and about 30 people attending the Republican event.
Follow staff writer Eric S. Smith on Twitter @dailylocaleric.