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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Va. Baker Is in the Spotlight at Ryan Rally


ROANOKE, Va. - Joe the Plumber, meet Chris the Baker.

The Republican ticket has embraced a new small-business hero and on Wednesday, the owner of a bakery who last week turned away Vice President Joseph R. Biden and 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 campaig ning, and he replied, “Nothing personal, but I just happened to disagree with the president and the vice president on a few things.”

The story vaulted from local news to the Drudge Report and conservative blogs, and voila, Mr. McMurray became the latest small business owner spotlighted by the Romney-Ryan campaign in a month-long 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 â€" he was referring to government investment in infrastructure, not denying entrepreneurs credit for their companies â€" 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 fire house. “He did say if you have a small business, you did no t 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!''

“He just gave my speech,'' Mr. Ryan said. “I'm voting for that guy, for Chris.''

It's clear Mr. Obama's literal meaning is no longer the issue; the line has grown long political legs because for the Romney-Ryan team it is emblematic of the broad choice in November: between Mr. Romney's business success and Mr. Obama's desire to raise taxes on the highest earners, which Republicans say will hamper “job creators.''

“The president makes these comments that kind of reveals his mindset, his philosophy of government,'' Mr. Ryan said. “It tells us that he believes in a government-centered society with a government-driven economy. That doesn't work. It never has worked. That's what Europe has and look at what it's doing to Europe.''

It was Mr. Ryan's fourth day campaigning in Virgi nia, a state Mr. Obama won in 2008, since Mitt Romney announced his selection as his running mate.

“You deliver Virginia, you save the American idea,” he said.