Barack Obama has "never even worked in business."
Rob Portman on Wednesday, August 29th, 2012 in a speech at the Republican National Convention in Tampa
At GOP convention, Rob Portman says Barack Obama “never even worked in business.”
When Barack Obama was seeking the presidency in 2008, Republicans frequently derided his career experience, saying it was limited to a scant four years in the U.S. Senate, some time in the Illinois Senate, and having been a "community organizer" in Chicago.
The GOP has often returned to that theme, asserting that Obama doesn’t have the business savvy and private-sector experience to lead the country out of the economic doldrums. And it has reached a fever pitch with a Republican National Convention dominated by criticism of Obama’s comment that business people "didn’t build" their businesses. (We’ve checked that contentious comment here.)
During his speech to delegates in Tampa, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio -- widely considered a finalist for the vice presidential slot eventually given to Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan -- brought up Obama’s career history again. He contrasted Obama’s work experiences with those of GOP nominee Mitt Romney, whose work has primarily been as a business executive.
"Then you have Barack Obama, who never started a business--never even worked in business," Portman said.
Obama’s work experience, or lack thereof, is well-plowed ground. So we thought we'd explore whether the president has ever worked in a business. (We interpreted Portman’s statement to mean that Obama had never worked in a private, profit-making enterprise.)
As PolitiFact first noted two years ago, the president does, in fact, have some experience in business.
In 1983 and 1984, he had a stint as a research assistant at Business International Corp. in New York City, where he helped write a newsletter.
From 1993 to 2004, he was an associate, and then a partner, at the Chicago law firm of Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland, where his work included employment-discrimination and voting-rights cases. (The job also overlapped with his time in the Illinois Legislature.)
If you count the best-selling books that have brought Obama millions of dollars in royalties, he also knows something about entrepreneurship.
Clearly, Obama has had less experience in the private sector than Romney; before he became president, he spent most of his working life either in the non-profit sector or in politics. However, Portman went too far when he said that Obama has "never even worked in business." We rate the statement False.
Published: Wednesday, August 29th, 2012 at 9:28 p.m.
Subjects: Candidate Biography
Rob Portman, speech to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Aug. 29, 2012
PolitiFact, "Romney says Barack Obama has no private sector experience," Oct. 18, 2011
PolitiFact, "Joe Scarborough: President Obama has never received a paycheck from a profitmaking business in his entire life," April 15, 2009
We want to hear your suggestions and comments.
For tips or comments on our Obameter and our GOP-Pledge-O-Meter promise databases, please e-mail the Obameter. If you are commenting on a specific promise, please include the wording of the promise.For comments about our Truth-O-Meter or Flip-O-Meter items, please e-mail the Truth-O-Meter. We’re especially interested in seeing any chain e-mails you receive that you would like us to check out. If you send us a comment, we'll assume you don't mind us publishing it unless you tell us otherwise.
Keep up to date with Politifact:
- Sign up for our e-mail (about once a week)
- Put a free PolitiFact widget on your blog or Web page
- Subscribe to our RSS feeds on Truth-O-Meter items
- Subscribe to our RSS feeds on GOP Pledge-O-Meter items
- Subscribe to our RSS feeds on Obameter items
- Advertise on PolitiFact
- Shop the PolitiFact store for T-shirts, hats and other PolitiFact swag