Local business owners spar for Romney, Obama over ‘You didn’t build that’

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ARVADA – For a second straight day, Mitt Romney’s Colorado campaign held an event involving local business owners expressing their outrage over President Barack Obama’s statement that businesses “didn’t build” their companies themselves.

“It pissed me off,” said Jack Davis, who hosted the press conference Tuesday at Advance Surface Technologies, which he bought 15 years ago. “To me, that statment really demonstrates to me that the president doesn’t have an appreciation for what it takes to start and run a business.”

Like the business owner who hosted the Romney campaign’s “We Did Build That” event Monday in Colorado Springs, Davis acknowledged that he did receive a government-backed SBA loan.

“We did have an SBA loan as a part of our overall loan package,” Davis said. “And in retrospect, I wish we had not done that because when we got to the point when we were paying off those loans there were some very restrictive covenants in that.”

Davis’s point, echoed by three other business owners who also spoke, was that the government is far too often an impediment to growth and that this president, in their view, is not supportive of the sacrifices business owners make to support their ventures.

“When bought this business, when anyone buys a business, you go in knowing that half of all businesses fail in the first five years,” Davis said. “You go in knowing you’re putting your home, most of your assets at risk because you’re personally guaranteeing the loan.”

The Obama campaign responded by putting together an event of its own at a small restaurant in Denver, where the owner takes a more favorable view of the president and his controversial comment.

“I was thinking he was actually reaching out to business owners saying I’m here to help,” said Andrew Casalini, the owner of Satchel’s on 6th. “If you go to the end of his speech, he actually says, ‘You’re not here alone’.

“We do need help,” Casalini said. “Small business owners do need the help of people around them, the infrastructure, the roads. I can’t get my stuff here without them.”

Former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb also spoke at the Obama campaign’s press conference at Satchel’s and criticized the Romney campaign for taking the president’s remarks out of context.

“People come eat in this restaurant because they know it’s safe, which is because of the police officers,” Webb said. “All of this is how we do things collectively. When I was fortunate enough to be elected Mayor of Denver, my 5th grade social studies teacher would send me notes because she didn’t like my phraseology or my grammar was wrong.

“We all put our sweat equity in it, but we all know we also have people who helped us along the way,” Webb continued. “I think that was the point the president was making.”

Romney himself is scheduled to campaign in Colorado on Thursday at an 11:15 a.m. event at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds in Golden.