A man who starred in a television ad for Mitt Romney's campaign received government help while building his family's small business, despite implying in the commercial that he did so without assistance, according to a report Monday by the Union Leader in New Hampshire.
Jack Gilchrist of Gilchrist Metal Fabricating said in the ad that he and his father created the company.
But the Union Leader reports that in 1999, Gilchrist Metal received $800,000 in tax-exempt revenue bonds issued by the New Hampshire Business Finance Authority to set up a manufacturing plant and buy new equipment.
In the TV ad released Friday, Gilchrist took issue with a comment President Barack Obama made earlier this month at a campaign stop in Virginia. Making the case that businesses succeed with collective help, Obama said, "If you've got a business, you didn't build that."
"If you are 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," he said.
However, Romney's campaign and national Republicans seized on Obama's "build that" comment, arguing it represents a philosophy of big government in the Oval Office.
Gilchrist, in the commercial, said it was his family who deserves credit for the developing the business.
"My father's hands didn't build this company? My hands didn't build this company? Through hard work and a little bit of luck, we built this business. Why are you demonizing us for it? It's time we had somebody who believes in us, someone who believes that achievement should be rewarded, not punished," he said.
Gilchrist told the Union Leader that his argument is not "compromised" by the fact that he received the bonds and added that his legal fees for the bonds amounted to $12,000.
"It was a loser and I wish I had never done it," he told the paper. "I bought some equipment with it."
In addition, he said that his company received a U.S. Small Business Administration loan totaling "somewhere south of" $500,000 in the late 1980s, according to the Union Leader.
Responding to story, Romney campaign spokesman Ryan Williams stood by the ad and pointed back to the president's comment.
"President Obama has demonstrated that he doesn't understand how the economy works and that he doesn't believe in our free market system," said Williams. "The President has denigrated business owners by telling them that they 'didn't build' their own successful companies, arrogantly dismissed the challenges facing our economy by saying the private sector is 'doing fine,' and promoted disastrous policies that have killed jobs."