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Americans for Prosperity, the conservative group behind millions of dollars of TV ads targeting Democrats, rolled into Billings on Monday to speak about President Barack Obama’s “failing agenda.”

Traveling in a giant black bus featuring large decals of Obama’s face and statistics about the national economy, Americans for Prosperity drew roughly 100 people to the parking lot of Beartooth Harley-Davidson for an evening rally. Quote bubbles above the president’s face cited the oft-repeated remarks “The private sector and doing fine” and “You didn’t build that.”

Joe Balyeat, Americans for Prosperity state director, used the opportunity to add some nuance to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” blunder, in which Romney said 47 percent of American voters will vote for Obama because they believe they are victims for whom the government has a responsibility to care.

Romney swung and missed, Balyeat said, but he wasn’t wrong. Americans dependent on the government won’t vote against it, even when they should.

“Romney’s failure is not that he pointed out the 47 percent, but that he failed to point out that smaller government, lower taxes and more economic freedom are more important to the 47 percent who pay no income taxes, than they are to the rich.”

In a nutshell, Balyeat said, if American voters who don't pay income tax had more freedom from the government, those voters would be more motivated to follow the path to prosperity.

Americans for Prosperity speakers faulted Obama for requiring Americans to have health insurance, for not driving unemployment below 8 percent for 43 months and for high gasoline prices, as well as subsidizing the green energy industry.

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Agriculture and Politics Reporter

Politics and agriculture reporter for The Billings Gazette.