Barack Obama Did Sort of Run a Lemonade Stand

| Tue Aug. 28, 2012 8:41 PM EDT

New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte was reading from the GOP script on Tuesday when she told a mostly-full Tampa Times Forum that President Obama "never even ran a lemonade stand." It was a point the Republican party chairman, Reince Preibus, had made just a few hours earlier: "President Obama's never run a company," Preibus told the assembled delegates. "He hasn't even run a garage sale or seen the inside of a lemonade stand."

It's a compelling line designed to hammer home Mitt Romney's core message—the President has never worked a real job and he doesn't know anything about business. The problem is it's entirely false.

As Politifact detailed in 2009, in response to a similar allegation from MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, 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 rasberry lemonade sorbet: 

1975 or 1976 — ice cream scooper, Baskin-Robbins — Honolulu — Obama claims to have lost his taste for ice cream during this, his first job, the duration of which is not publicly known.

Date unknown — deli counter clerk, business name unknown — Honolulu — Obama had a summer job at a deli counter in Hawaii, making sandwiches, his spokesman said during the presidential campaign.

1980 — gift shop sales clerk, business name unknown — Honolulu — Obama worked at a gift shop in Hawaii selling island souvenirs the summer after his freshman year at Occidental College in California.

As Politifact noted, Obama held private-sector jobs as an adult as well, including posts at a Chicago law firm and a New York City company that helped American companies do business abroad—exactly the kind of experience Romney is accusing Obama of lacking. It's a myth that hasn't received as much attention as Romney's debunked charges about Obama's welfare policies, but in accusing the President of being coddled and oblivious, it's no less pernicious.

Get Mother Jones by Email - Free. Like what you're reading? Get the best of MoJo three times a week.