Irey Vaughan, business owners take a stand


By Brad Hundt, Staff writer

Surrogates for Republican Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign hosted a “We Did Build This” event outside Washington County Courthouse Tuesday morning, one of several they are holding in battleground states to highlight what they say are President Obama’s business-unfriendly policies.

County Commissioner Diana Irey Vaughan was the headliner for the event, and she was joined by local small-business owners who extolled the virtues of entrepreneurship and discussed the sweat they invested and the risks they took to build their enterprises.

The Romney campaign has been seizing on remarks President Obama made at a July 13 campaign stop in Roanoke, Va., where Obama said, “If you’ve got a business – you didn’t build that.” However, the Obama campaign has said the president’s remark was taken out of context within a broader discussion of infrastructure. Before his comment, Obama said “Somebody built roads and bridges.”

Matt Mittenthal, a spokesman for the Obama campaign in Western Pennsylvania, said “President Obama has always believed in America’s entrepreneurs, and the Romney campaign is deliberately twisting his words to suggest otherwise.”

Michael Passalaqua, the owner of Angelo’s restaurant in North Franklin Township, said he “risked everything I owned” to open his restaurant and “I was pretty appalled by (Obama’s) comment.” Passalaqua did acknowledge that he has received help from the likes of employees, subcontractors and architects, but “the risks were all mine.”

Amy Hancock, the president and owner of AdvantageCare Rehabilitation, Inc., which has offices in Washington, Pittsburgh and Hollidaysburg, said the Affordable Health Care Act, upheld in June by the U.S. Supreme Court, would create “new challenges” for her.

At a similar “We Did Build This” event in Lancaster Monday, the main draw was U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, who is thought to be on Romney’s short list of potential vice-presidential nominees. In Ohio, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, also thought to be a veep finalist, played a similar role.