This is a ballsy move:
Obviously, Obama said those words, and Romney supporters have seized upon those words. Rush Limbaugh has been playing and replaying that line. Charles Krauthammer said: "I think Obama has made the gaffe of the year when he said if you created a business, you didn't build it. That phrase, 'you didn't build it' should be hung around Obama until the end of his presidency."
And now, here comes the Obama campaign not only running Obama's self-damaging words but showing Romney repeating them with a critical edge. This takes nerve... nerve or genuine, outright fear that Obama's garbled statement will be used to destroy him. They must confront it and take some of the edge off it. And maybe they've decided they shouldn't worry about breathing more life into it. It's alive and on the loose and they need to give chase.
The idea of the ad is to get us to see that despite the awkward line that's so useful to his opponent, Obama was mostly saying something we agree about: That people don't succeed entirely on their own, but benefit along the way with the help of others. The ad has text on screen that says: "Mitt Romney is launching a false attack," after Romney quoting the quote "That's not what [Obama] said," and after showing Obama saying the quote, "Mitt Romney will say anything."
You could say if you listen sympathetically to Obama saying the quote, you could understand the quote in a way that's not ridiculous and disturbingly left-wing. And if you get that far, then Romney's use of it could be understood as "a false attack." [But false is still the wrong word.] But why would Romney not use that quote for all it's worth? Since when does decency/integrity/honesty require that a politician interpret his opponent's words in a sympathetic light and give him the benefit of the doubt? The quote is a gift to Romney and he's accepted it.
It's like Romney saying "Corporations are people." That's a gift to Obama's people and they are using it. They don't feel any ethical compulsion to stop and say we understand what he really meant. I mean, I love the way the new Obama ad — trying to get us to understand — includes this additional part of the context: "We succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together."
When I heard that the first time, I said: Yeah, corporations are people. We do things together. Sometimes when people succeed doing things together, they form a corporation as a way of working together. But you'll never hear Obama say that. He will use the 'Corporations are people' line for full mockery effect, never admitting that he knows why it makes sense and why it really isn't anything we disagree about.