New York Times reporter Trip Gabriel posted Wednesday on "Chris the Baker" -- Chris McMurray, a cookie store owner who made waves when he turned away VP Joe Biden from a prospective shop visit. Yesterday he joined Rep. Paul Ryan at a campaign rally in Roanoke, Va., site of President Obama's infamous "You didn't build that" remark, widely seen as dismissive of individual initiative and entrepreneurship.
Gabriel predictably accused McMurray and the GOP of "willfully twisting the president's remark" and blamed Ryan for having "continued the misrepresentation" of what Obama actually said. But do Obama's actual words help him at all?
Joe the Plumber, meet Chris the Baker.
The Republican ticket has embraced a new small-business hero. On Wednesday, the owner of a bakery who last week turned away Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. introduced Representative Paul D. Ryan at a rally in this city where President Obama uttered his “You didn’t build that” remark.
Chris McMurray, the owner of Crumb and Get It Cookie Company with his wife, told a crowd at another small business, a hardware store, “We are gathered here today to send a message to the Obama-Biden team that we did build it.’’
Mr. McMurray said the Biden campaign approached him to ask if the vice president could drop by his cookie shop while campaigning, and he replied, “Nothing personal, but I just happened to disagree with the president and the vice president on a few things.”
Gabriel seemed petulant that conservative blogs had actually pushed an anti-Obama story into the public eye.
The story vaulted from local news to the Drudge Report and conservative blogs, and voilà, Mr. McMurray became the latest small-business owner spotlighted by the Romney-Ryan campaign in a monthlong hammering of Mr. Obama for supposed anti-business attitudes and policies.
Fact-checkers and the Obama campaign complain that Republicans are willfully twisting the president’s remark – he was referring to government investment in infrastructure, not denying entrepreneurs credit for their companies – but the line become just one of many yanked from context in an intensely heated political season.
Mr. Ryan’s account of Mr. Obama’s remarks continued the misrepresentation of what the president said on July 13 in front of a Roanoke firehouse. “He did say if you have a small business, you did not build that, someone else did,” Mr. Ryan said, after thanking Mr. McMurray for his spirited introduction, which had the crowd chanting “We built it! We built it!”
Here's the full quote of what Obama said in Norfolk, Va., since Gabriel couldn't be bothered to actually quote him, either in print or online:
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 Internet didn't get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.
Where's the "misrepresentation"?
(Two weeks ago, Gabriel's colleague Michael Shear also dubiously defended Obama's "you didn't build that" remark.)
The Thursday morning print version of Gabriel's post is shorter and toned down some of the slanted language but added a kicker, digging up the fact that McMurray filed for bankruptcy in 2009. Times reporter Larry Rohter smeared "Joe the Plumber" in similar fahsion for having the audacity to challenge candidate Barack Obama on the campaign trail in Toledo, Ohio.