WASHINGTON (CBS SF) – House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that federally-funded research, not Apple and late CEO Steve Jobs, invented the iPhone.
Pelosi made her remarks at a meeting to draft the Democratic Party platform ahead of the Democratic National Convention next month.
Touting the need for more research and development spending in the federal budget, the lawmaker from San Francisco held up a device that looked like an iPhone.
The House Minority Leader then asked attendees, “Anybody here have a smartphone? In this smartphone, almost everything came from federal investments in research, GPS created by the military, flat screens, LLD [sic], digital camera, wireless data compression, research into metal alloys for strength and lightweight, voice recognition. The list goes on and on.”
“They say Steve Jobs did a good idea designing it and putting it together. Federal research invented it,” Pelosi said.
Conservative critics pounced on Pelosi’s comments and compared them to a speech delivered by President Barack Obama in 2012 when he said that businesses did not become successful solely on their own.
“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. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet,” Obama said in part.
Mitt Romney, who ran against Mr. Obama in 2012, seized on the phrase “you didn’t build that” as an attack on the free market. Factchecking organizations Politifact and Factcheck.org have said the president’s remarks were taken out of context.
UPDATE 3:20 p.m. A spokesperson for Nancy Pelosi emailed the following statement to clarify her remarks:
“The late Steve Jobs and the team at Apple that made the iPhone would be the first to tell you that they didn’t invent many of its core technologies we now take for granted. Leader Pelosi counted Steve Jobs as friend and meant no disrespect to his legacy, but the point she was making is a valid one. Leader Pelosi believes that Steve Jobs and his colleagues at Apple, deserve enormous credit for taking federally-backed innovations off the shelf, refining them, commercializing them and turning them into a beautiful device that changed the world.”