A new ad released by the Romney Campaign Thursday sought to use the failure of a local barbecue chain as a metaphor for the economic struggles of small businesses in the United States during the Obama administration.
The Richmond, Va.,-based restaurant chain Bill's Barbecue closed all of its remaining locations in September after more than 80 years of operation. The ad, which is narrated by Rhoda Elliot, the company's owner and a Republican activist, blames President Barack Obama for failing to deliver on the change he promised in 2008. But evidence suggests that the company was in trouble before the president took office.
A statement released by an attorney for the company at time of closing suggested the economic collapse of 2008 dealt a staggering blow to the local chain, and indicated that "the economy during the past five years, market changes and the high cost of upgrading operations" made it unfeasible for it to continue.
Aside from that, public health records show that different locations of the chain were cited for at least 8 health code violations in 2009 alone, including 5 critical violations, and that several locations had critical violations dating back as far as 2003.
Think Progress also pointed out that despite the failure of Bill's Barbecue, downtown Richmond has experienced a boom in development recently, and that other barbecue companies are expanding.
"It seems highly misleading for Romney to now try to blame the failure of one struggling business on President Obama," TP's Josh Israel wrote.
Daily Kos called the ad "another lie" and argued that market forces, not Obama, forced the chain to close:
"The truth about the closing of Bill's Barbecue is that Richmond's barbecue scene dramatically improved in recent years. The competition got a lot better, and Bill's Barbecue was unable or unwilling to improve its product," blogger "JCWilmore" wrote.
Correction: A previous version of this story identified Talking Points Memo as the source for information about Richmond's development boom. The source was Think Progress.