Mitt Romney will campaign with Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown on Wednesday at a Hudson small business owned by a man who was at the center of controversy in the summer of 2012 over President Obama’s remarks, “If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that.”
Jack Gilchrist, owner of Gilchrist Metal Fabricating, will host 2012 GOP presidential candidate Romney and Brown at his company, which, according to the Brown campaign, employs “35 people and designs metal parts for over 29 different service industry companies.”
The Brown campaign says, “Economic uncertainty, driven by Obamacare and increasing energy prices, continues to challenge this business, discouraging growth and expansion.”
Gichrist was a strong supporter of Romney in 2012, and cut an ad for the Romney campaign after Obama, in a memorable speech in Virginia, said:
“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.
“The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.”
Romney and his GOP supporters criticized the comments for weeks, suggesting that Obama was downplaying individual initiative in the building of small businesses.
Gilchrist, especially offended, cut the ad for Romney. It received national attention.
In the ad, Gilchrist told Obama:
“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?”
Gilchrist, however, later confirmed that he received some government assistance for his business.
He said that in 1999, Gilchrist Metal received $800,000 in tax-exempt revenue bonds issued by the New Hampshire Business Finance Authority. He said that in 2011, his company received two U.S. Navy sub-contracts totaling about $83,000 and a smaller, $5,600 Coast Guard contract in 2008.
He also said his company received a U.S. Small Business Administration loan totaling a bit less than $500,000 in the late 1980s. He said his business has also received matching funds from the New England Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (NETAAC), which is federally-funded.
Gilchrist said at the time about 10 percent of his company’s contracts were defense-related.
“It’s a small piece,” he said. “But we do business with a plethora of industries and certainly defense is one of them.” He said, however, that Obama wanted to “cut the crap” out of the defense budget.
“I’m not going to turn a blind eye because the money came from the government,” Gilchrist said in 2012. “As far as I’m concerned, I’m getting some of my tax money back.”
“I’m not stupid, I’m not going to say ‘no.’ Shame on me if I didn’t use what’s available. As a matter of fact, right now, I’m driving on a road.”
After the report on Gilchrist’s use of government programs, he said he received hundreds of emails both supporting and criticizing him. He said he also received two harassing telephone calls that contained profanities.
Gilchrist reported those calls to the Hudson Police Department.
Obama then cut his own ad responding to the criticism over his comments in the speech.
“Of course Americans build their own businesses,” Obama said in the ad. He said the Romney and GOP ads criticizing him were “taking my words out of context” and were “flat out wrong.”
Gilchrist this year has been a strong supporter of Brown, who visited Gilchrist as one of his first stops in March after announcing his candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat.