I don’t think of Mitt Romney as a passionate man. But there is one area in which I think he shows some passion: defending businesses and corporations from hostile attacks. I saw this when he argued that “corporations are people.” He made a simple point clearly and eloquently. Imagine George W. Bush in the same situation. I doubt he would do it either clearly or passionately. Think about how he stepped on his own toes when he tried to say, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”

I saw Romney’s passion on a related issue again today when he took on Obama’s statement about what successful business people have achieved. Obama said:

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.

I don’t know whether in saying “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that,” Obama meant “that” to refer to “a business” or to refer to “roads and bridges.” “That” is singular, suggesting that he meant “a business,” not “roads and bridges.” But people make grammatical slips during speeches.

In any case, Romney certainly took Obama to mean “a business,” and here’s how he replied today. I think Obama accidentally played to one of Romney’s few strengths.