You didn't build that?
Okay, here is the full quote:
There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me — because they want to give something back. They know they didn't — look, if you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own. You didn't get there on your own. I'm always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.
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.
Let's take a look at the core issues:
There is an If -> Then statement in first paragraph. "...if you've been successful, [then] you didn't get there on your own..." He zeroes in on successful people, noting that they didn't get "there" on their own. Where is "there"? Presumably, based on the previous statement of "wealthy, successful Americans", he's speaking about successful entrepreneurs. In the second paragraph he clarifies with another If -> Then statement, "If you've got a business - [then] you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen."
Herein lies the problem - what is he referring to by his use of the word "that"? Camp 1 claims the word "that" meant the businesses he referred to in the first part of the sentence (and in paragraph 1). Camp 2 claims the word "that" meant the infrastructure he referred to in the first part of paragraph 2 (coupled with the statement that some wealthy Americans "want to give something back" in paragraph 1). Given Obama's stated desire to "spread the wealth around" and his decidedly interventionist ideas, Camp 1's claim seems the most obvious. However, even if Camp 2's claim is correct, we're left with some goofy type of statement in which Obama believes that business owner's go around claiming to have built roads and bridges and teachers. To top it off, there is the hidden (il)logic of noting that because some people "want to give something back", and because government builds infrastructure, he's justified in forcing (by means of higher taxes) all successful people to "give something back". So much for "wanting" to contribute. Is that really what the O campaign wants to hang its hat on?
Evidently, it is.