Media Ignore Romney's Double Standard On Business Experience

In his speech at the Republican National Convention, Mitt Romney suggested that Barack Obama was unqualified to be president because he didn't have enough experience working in a business. In reporting this claim, media outlets have not noted that Romney selected a vice presidential candidate, Paul Ryan, who has worked almost exclusively in the public sector.

Romney Claims Obama Was Unqualified Because He Lacked Business Experience

Romney: Obama “Had Almost No Experience Working In A Business,” Which Is “The Basic Qualification That Most Americans Have.” From Mitt Romney's Republican National Convention speech accepting his party's presidential nomination:

The president has not disappointed you because he wanted to. The president has disappointed America because he hasn't lead [sic] America in the right direction.  He took office without the basic qualification that most Americans have, and one that was essential to the task at hand.  He had almost no experience working in a business.  Jobs to him are about government. [, 8/30/12]

Media Report Romney's Claim About The Importance Of Private-Sector Work ...

LA Times: Romney Blamed “Sluggish Economic Recovery” On “Obama's Background In Government, Contrasting That With His Own Deep Business Experience.” An August 31 Los Angeles Times article about Romney's Republican National Convention speech repeated Mitt Romney's claim about Obama's business experience:

Romney's focus, like that of the nation's voters, was almost exclusively on the stubbornly sluggish economic recovery. He blamed it on Obama's background in government, contrasting that with his own deep business experience.

“He took office without the basic qualification that most Americans have and one that was essential to his task,” the 65-year-old nominee said. “Jobs to him are about government.” [Los Angeles Times, 8/31/12]

AP: Romney Repeated Claim That Obama Can't Improve Economy “Because He Has No Business Background.” An August 31 Associated Press article about the convention said that Romney, in his speech, “repeated his claim that Obama can't lead America out its economic doldrums because he has no business background. 'Jobs to him are about government,' Romney said.” [Associated Press, 8/31/12]

CNN Airs Romney's “No Experience Working In A Business” Claim. During the August 31 broadcast of CNN's Early Start, CNN correspondent Brianna Keilar discussed Romney's convention speech. Keilar said that the centerpiece of Romney's speech was “an attack on President Obama's economic record” and then aired clips of Romney's speech, including one in which he claimed Obama had “almost no experience working in a business. Jobs to him are about government.” [CNN, Early Start, 8/31/12]

... But Not That Romney's VP Pick Has Worked Almost Exclusively In The Public Sector

Politico: Ryan's “Adult Work Experience Comes Almost Completely In The Worlds Of Government And Politics.” An August 10 Politico article noted that Ryan “has spent the bulk of his career in the capital.” From the article:

Flipping burgers at McDonald's, steering the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile, slinging cheap margaritas, and toning abs and pecs.

That's about the extent of Rep. Paul Ryan's private sector experience.


[A]s the Ryan-for-veep buzz grows louder  some of his rivals are pointing out that it may seem discordant for Romney to choose someone whose adult work experience comes almost completely in the worlds of government and politics.


Ryan's time working in the business world is limited to the brief period he spent at his family's construction business in Janesville, Wis. That was only a matter of months, though. [Politico, 8/10/12]

Huffington Post: Ryan “Has Spent The Vast Majority Of His Working Life In The Public Sector.” An August 12 Huffington Post article noted that while Romney has proposed “a constitutional amendment requiring any presidential candidate to have worked in the private sector for at least three years,” Ryan “has spent the vast majority of his working life in the public sector”:

One of Mitt Romney's top pitches to the American public in his bid for president is the private-sector experience he says is needed to turn the economy around. In May, Romney even said he'd like to see a constitutional amendment requiring any presidential candidate to have worked in the private sector for at least three years.

But the man Romney chose to put a heartbeat away from the presidency, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), has spent the vast majority of his working life in the public sector. Many presidential and vice presidential candidates have similar backgrounds, of course, but public-sector experience is not high among the criteria that Romney has put forward.  [Huffington Post, 8/12/12]

Wash. Post's Wonkblog: “Barack Obama Spent A Lot More Time In The Private Sector Than Paul Ryan.” An August 29 post on Washington Post's Wonkblog noted, “Obama actually spent about 16 years working outside of government -- not as much time as Romney, to be sure, but significantly more than his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan.” The post continued:

Ryan hasn't spent much time outside of Congress in his adult life: He spent two years working for Empower America, a Washington think-tank, and one year at his family's construction firm in Wisconsin in the 1990s. That's about three years total, only one of which was for a for-profit business. (He also flipped burger at McDonald's and drove the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile as a student, and he worked part-time as a waiter and fitness instructor during his earliest years in Washington.) [Wonkblog, The Washington Post, 8/29/12]