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By W. Gardner Selby September 5, 2012

Julián Castro says Mitt Romney advised Ohio students to start a business by borrowing from parents, if they have to

Making a case for President Barack Obama, Julián Castro said the Republican presidential nominee lacks a common touch.

"Mitt Romney, quite simply, doesn’t get it," the San Antonio mayor said in his Sept. 4, 2012, keynote at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. "A  few months ago, he visited a university in Ohio and gave the students there a little entrepreneurial advice. ‘Start a business,’ he said. "But how? ‘Borrow money if you have to from your parents.’

"Gee, why didn't I think of that?" Castro said to delegates’ delight.

Castro continued: "Some people are lucky enough to borrow money from their parents, but that shouldn't determine whether you can pursue your dreams. I don't think Gov. Romney meant any harm. I think he's a good guy. He just has no idea how good he's had it."

Did Castro accurately recap Romney’s student advice?

According to news accounts, Romney visited Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio (northeast of Columbus) on April 27, 2012. And, as reported at the time by The Washington Post and other news organizations, the candidate told an auditorium full of students and faculty that Obama’s policies had amounted to an attack on success and on those who aspire to be successful.
"This kind of divisiveness, this attack on success," Romney was reported as saying, "is very different than what we’ve seen in our country’s history. We’ve always encouraged young people, take — take a shot, go for it. Take a risk. Get the education. Borrow money, if you have to, from your parents. Start a business."

We checked his quoted comments against a video taken of his 35-minute speech by Marc Kovac, an Ohio reporter for Dix Newspapers. It shows his exhortation occurred toward the end of a presentation otherwise lacing Romney's criticism of Obama’s stewardship of the economy with vows to spur the economy and unite the country.

But was Romney recommending borrowing money from parents to start a business or to pay for an education or both? His wording and delivery didn’t make it clear.

In fact, the National Journal’s report on the speech said that Romney reported that Romney "offered a group of college students this advice: If you want to get an education or start a business, borrow money from your parents." An aide to Romney clarified later that Romney said he was referring to business loans when he suggested students borrow money from their parents," and not, the wording indicates, borrowing to go to college. The National Journal amended its story.

In any event, Romney followed his remark at Otterbein U. by citing the example of sandwich chain Jimmy John’s, which owner Jimmy John Liautaud launched by borrowing $20,000 from his father (in return for 48 percent of the business) to start the shop, the Post and New York Daily News reported. The Post account says: "Liautaud’s father had made the loan on the condition that if his son wasn’t able to return the money, with interest, within a year, he would have to join the Army."

Romney told the audience that Liautaud’s "sandwiches are doing pretty well. He’s got shops all over the country and thousands of people who work with him. This is kind of an American experience."

Asked about Castro’s claim, Romney campaign spokesman Christopher Walker said by email that cherry-picking one statement from one speech, "a national policy does not make." Romney, Walker said, has laid out his desires to create more jobs and increase take-home pay.

Featured Fact-check

Separately, we searched the Nexis database of news coverage and did not unearth other instances of Romney lofting the borrow-from-your-parents' idea.

Our ruling

Castro told his fellow Democrats that Romney urged students at an Ohio university that if they have to, they should borrow money from their parents to start a business. Romney, in fact, said that. Castro’s claim rates True.

Our Sources

News blog entry, "204 Comments Romney to college students: Pursue your dreams, even if you have to borrow to do so," The Washington Post, Election 2012 blog, April 27, 2012 (accessed Sept. 4, 2012)

News article, "Mitt to students wanting to start their own business: Borrow $ from your parents," The (New York) Daily News, April 28, 2012

Video taken of Mitt Romney’s appearance at Otterbein University by Marc Kovac, Dix Newspapers, Ohio, April 27, 2012

Email (excerpted), response to PolitiFact Texas, Christopher Walker, Southeastern Communications Advisor, Mitt Romney campaign, Sept. 5, 2012

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Julián Castro says Mitt Romney advised Ohio students to start a business by borrowing from parents, if they have to

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