Romney Ad Blames Obama For Killing Bill's Barbecue, But Locals Disagree

Rhoda Elliot of Romney ad about Bill's Barbecue

So far, one of the most controversial ads of the presidential campaign seemed to suggest that Mitt Romney was somehow to blame for a woman's cancer death. Now an ad from the Romney camp is being accused of mistakenly holding President Obama responsible for the death of a landmark barbecue joint in Richmond, Va.

The ad mingles sepia photos, sentimental music, old newspaper clippings and the tragic testimony of Rhoda Elliot, who currently runs the 82-year-old Bill's Barbecue, famous for its pies and limeade. "When President Obama took office there was a lot of hope that things were going to change," she explains. "Well he didn't change anything. There are more people on unemployment today and that's because the small businesses are failing. Because we can't make it."

The latest jobs numbers, released Friday, show a mixed picture, with 171,000 jobs created last month. But more people started looking for work, too, keeping the number of unemployed at around 12.3 million.

In fact, several local residents have other explanations for why Elliot is out of the job, however. Reporter Mark Holmberg of local station WTVR visited Bill's Barbecue many times over the years, and says the restaurant began foundering long before Obama took office, for all the various reasons that restaurants founder: bad service, overpriced food, a tired ambiance, erratic opening times, and health code violations. He points out that another barbecue restaurant opened three years ago nearby and has done wonderfully.

"We've grown every year while they have been declining every year," Buzz Grossberg, the owner of a 20-year-old competitor, Buz and Ned's, told The Washington Post. He says that he was able to open a second outfit in April, because Obama's Small Business Administration helped him get a private bank loan. One Yelp reviewer reports doing a taste test of Buz and Ned's and Bill's, and concluded that "Bill's just couldn't hold up under the scrutiny of comparison."

More: Insider Tips For Landing A Political Job In An Election Year

Some reviewers laud Bill's as a "true icon" of the neighborhood, waxing nostalgic about the era when it was the hippest spot in town, and waitresses delivered your food to your car on a tray. "I ache for it whenever I can't be home," wrote one Virginian who now lives in New York. But most of the reviews were less than flattering, calling the burger meat "thin and lifeless" with little rocks inside, the chopped pork "dry and salty, flavorless," and the restaurant's appearance as "post-apocalyptic."

"You're either on your way to a nursing home or rehab if you eat at Bill's BBQ," wrote one reviewer.

On Thursday, Romney campaigned in Virginia, where the race is still a dead heat, and stopped by one of the Bill's closed locations. "Six years ago we started seeing a little ripple in things," Elliot told Romney, "and then five years ago it rippled a little more, and then it really hit, and from there things just got rougher and rougher -- the taxes, federal regulations."

Later that day, Romney told a crowd in Caroline County that taxes, regulations and "Obamacare" were "crushing small businesses across America."

In response, Obama spokeswoman Joanne Peters issued the statement: "Romney's plan could raise taxes on as many as 30 million small-business owners to pay for his $250,000 tax cuts for multimillionaires.... Mitt Romney can lurch from false attack to false attack in the final days of the campaign, but the American people understand President Obama is the only candidate in this race with a concrete plan to move our country forward, grow our economy, and strengthen the middle class."

This isn't the first time one of the campaigns has been criticized for recruiting regular Americans to make political points. The owner of a deli said in August that she was considering suing the Obama campaign for putting her store's name in an ad about Obama's pro-small business record. And last month, the head of an Ohio charity wasn't pleased when the Romney campaign "ramrodded their way" inside so that Paul Ryan could clean some already clean dishes for a photo op.

It seems the attitudes of working Americans are sometimes at odds with the ideologies of the politicians that want to tell their stories, and sometimes the ideologies of working Americans are at odds with the facts.




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Claire Gordon

Staff Writer

Claire Gordon has contributed to Slate's DoubleX, the Huffington Post, and the book Prisons: Current Controversies. While an undergraduate at Yale University and a research fellow at Yale graduate school, she spoke on panels at Yale and Cornell, and reported from Cairo, Tokyo, and Berlin.

Follow Claire on Twitter. Email Claire at claire.gordon@teamaol.com. Add Claire to your Google+ circles.

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Love America

I live a few miles from Bill's Barbecue and used to eat there any time I was in Richmond, Va. News Commets sounds like they live here. The people you may have asked were Democrats. Huffington Post is very liberal and never a compliment for any Republican. If it wasn't for Cable we would think we were in Haven because the liberal media hides any negative remarks regarding Democrats.

November 10 2012 at 5:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
SWEETWATER

A vote for Shitt Romney is a vote for Trick Romney

November 06 2012 at 12:38 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
lr27048

Romney will say anything people would like to hear. He is not suitible for public office. Need to know only applies to national secrets, not to national political business. If the counrty falls into bankruptcy Romney will say everything is just fine, that he has a plan. We will be treated like mushrooms while the wealthy move right along. I can't figure out where all these gullible Romney people are coming from. If you are not very wealthy you shouldn't be voting for Romney. Upper class business people are very foolish. Most of them will be reduced to middle class. Romney's plan puts everyone below super rich in the food chain and cancels national retirement programs.

November 06 2012 at 9:04 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
dsb1252

He has lied about everything else this shouldn't be a surprise.

November 06 2012 at 8:19 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
JunkYardDragon

cdavecrz: What illiterate woman's womb did you slime out of? Learn how to spell and you MIGHT be able to put an entire sentence together using vowels and other grammar. Are you one of the 47%?

November 06 2012 at 7:54 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to JunkYardDragon's comment
SWEETWATER

Why make personal attacks because you don't agree with a poster? You went through all the insults and still have not offered any intelligent rebuttal on the point. Why?

November 06 2012 at 12:29 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
cdavecrz

A romney add??? as if Romney put it out there??? and these sick dem writers like a pack of wolves eating it up. No party on earth, is as crooked, as deceitful, as undeserving, as the democratic party. It lets black panters walk the streets in front of voter places threatening whites and its OK per Eric Holder. It lets 4 americans in Lybia on their own to be killed by terrorist, and tells a blatant lie on who and why it happesed. It leader has 24 personal assistants for his wife, no other leader has had more than 2. No party has statrted more wars, spent more money, and accomplished less,, than Dems. Then Huff misleads with headlines like these???? Yesterday the story was a no brainer,, so change the headlines to a misleading lie. WOW

November 06 2012 at 6:35 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to cdavecrz's comment
KennyRay

Mitt is a deceitful, repulsive, arrogant snob... on top of being a first class liar!!! But hey...what REPUBLICAN politician isn't???

November 06 2012 at 12:46 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to KennyRay's comment
SWEETWATER

And I think Col. Lawrence Wilkerson was right. The Republican party if "FULL" of racists ... against Obama for his skin color, period.

November 06 2012 at 12:32 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
SAM

Just like Chrysler recently stated: 'Romney is full of sh_t!!!!'

November 06 2012 at 12:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to SAM's comment
SWEETWATER

That's Shitt Romney, not Mit Romney

November 06 2012 at 12:33 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
Cherry

So glad someone finally called out that Liar, Mitt.

November 05 2012 at 11:34 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
robantm

That's more than Romneysia, it's Romneyism...concoct any BS explantion you want - the truth starved, low-information, non-thinkers will gobble it up.

November 05 2012 at 8:31 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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