By Eric Boehm | PA Independent
HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania’s Democratic U.S. senator Monday issued a subtle rebuke to President Barack Obama’s much-publicized comments about what it takes to build a successful business.
While addressing the Pennsylvania Press Club’s monthly luncheon here, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey generally steered clear of directly involving himself in the ongoing presidential campaign, except when asked about his view on what it takes to build a successful business in the private sector.
Casey was asked to weigh in on the contentious national debate, which sprang up after Obama’s comments last week. The president told supporters in Virginia, “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”
Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, Republicans in general and the business community have been quick to pounce.
Opponents have criticized the senator for voting with Obama about 95 percent of the time, but Casey stressed his independence from the president on key issues Monday.
He said investment in infrastructure helps all businesses succeed, but he ended his remarks on the topic by clearly acknowledging the roles people play in making businesses succeed by investing their effort and taking risks.
Gene Barr, president of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, said Casey’s comments demonstrated the “lack of understanding” by Obama about what it takes to run a successful business.
“In the end, it comes down to individual initiative and the willingness to take risks,” Barr said.
Casey is running for re-election to a second term in the U.S. Senate, after defeating Rick Santorum in 2006.
Megan Piwowar, communications director for Tom Smith, Casey’s Republican opponent and a former coal executive from Armstrong County, called the senator’s comments “election year lip service.”
“Tom Smith has actually built a business and created jobs – which is why Tom understands that only by reversing the oppressive regulation and taxation that Casey supports will we get the economy growing,” Piwowar said.
Smith is scheduled to address the press club in August.
This story was updated at 4:27 p.m. to include comments from Smith’s campaign.