In May, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R) complained President Obama “never ran a lemonade stand.” Soon after, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said, “President Obama’s private business experience hasn’t seen the inside of a lemonade stand.”
Yesterday, Priebus opened up the convention by once again saying the president hasn’t “seen the inside of a lemonade stand.” And by later in the evening, Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) joined the fun, arguing that Obama “has never even run a lemonade stand.”
It’s deeply tiresome, but the point of this strange talking point is that the president, according to Republicans, didn’t work in the private sector before getting involved in public service. Vice presidential hopeful Paul Ryan also never worked in the private sector before getting involved in public service, but apparently, that’s not supposed to matter.
But even putting that aside, there are two broad problems with the argument. The first is, it’s not true.
Obama held a number of retail and food service jobs as a teenager in Hawaii – including scooping ice cream at Baskin-Robbins, which technically doesn’t serve lemonade but it does have a pink raspberry lemonade sorbet.
As a young man, Obama worked an ice-cream shop, a deli, and a gift shop. As an adult, Obama worked at a private sector law firm and at “a New York City company that helped American companies do business abroad – exactly the kind of experience Romney is accusing Obama of lacking.”
And the second problem is, this argument is four years too late. If the underlying point is that Obama is an inexperienced presidential candidate the time to make that case was in 2008, when he only had four years of statewide office under his belt. In 2012, the attack is just silly – Obama’s not inexperienced anymore; he’s run the executive branch of the United States during a time of foreign and domestic crises. Obama may not have led a business before getting elected, but he’s led a nation after getting elected.
His opponent, meanwhile, is the least experienced major-party nominee in 72 years.