RNC To Showcase ‘We Built This!’ Theme From a Stadium Mostly Financed By Public Taxpayer Dollars

The stage at the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa Bay, Florida

For weeks, the Romney campaign have used an out-of-context quote from President Obama as the backdrop to their “We Did Build This!” tour, a series of speeches and press conferences featuring a parade of small businesses that have directly benefitted from government loans and contracts.

It’s a theme that will carry over to the Republican National Convention next week, as the event organizers have titled Tuesday evening’s primetime session “We Built This!”

But as with so many of these events before it, the Republican Party will be criticizing Obama for suggesting that small businesses rely on public funding from a building built largely with taxpayer dollars.

The Tampa Bay Times Forum, usually the home to the Tampa Bay Lightning NHL team and other large-scale events, was built in 1996 for $139 million, 62 percent of which was provided by the taxpayers of Florida.

It serves to underscore the point that President Obama was trying to make, that private companies — from professional sports franchises to small businesses alike — rely on government spending to succeed. Businesses don’t buy roads or police departments or even stadiums, at least not without government help.

Nonetheless, Jeff Vinik, the principal owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning, is a big donor to Mitt Romney and the RNC, giving more than $30,000 so far this election season.