President Obama visits Triangle

President Obama speaks at Cree in Durham Monday.

June 13, 2011 7:41:57 PM PDT
President Barack Obama visited the Triangle Monday to talk about the economy and his push for jobs in new technologies.

Air Force One touched down at Raleigh/Durham International Airport just after 11 a.m. The president stepped off the plane and made his way over to a crowd waiting to see him behind barricades.

"How's it going everybody?" the president said to the group.

The group of dignitaries on the tarmac to greet Obama included Governor Beverly Purdue, Senator Kay Hagan, Representative David Price, Durham Mayor Bill Bell, Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt, and Morrisville Mayor Jackie Holcombe.

Governor Perdue climbed into the presidential limo with Obama for the ride over to Durham-based Cree Inc. - maker of LED lighting and other products.

In a speech Monday afternoon, President Obama praised Cree for the great strides it has made in improving LED technology. He used the company as an example of the type of new jobs he wants to create as the country rebounds from a deep recession.

"I want to see the LEDs and solar panels and wind turbines and electric cars of tomorrow made right here in the USA," he said.

Click here to watch the entire speech

Before making his speech, the president spent time discussing his jobs initiatives with his 22-member jobs council, which is made up of business and labor leaders who are trying to figure out ways to increase hiring and boost economic growth.

Obama heard concerns about everything from difficulty getting small business loans to regulatory burdens on airlines. He pledged to do everything he could to help businesses as his administration aims to breathe life into the faltering economic recovery.

As Washington faces an Aug. 2 deadline to raise the government's borrowing limit or go into unprecedented default, Obama tried to make real for people what's at stake. He argued for smart decisions on what to cut and how -- sending a message to Republicans who say they won't agree to raise the debt limit unless Obama and Democrats agree to enormous spending cuts and no tax increases at all.

"The thing I want to emphasize is that we need to solve our medium - and long-term debt and deficit issues not for abstract reasons, but because they are a concrete impediment to growth and jobs," Obama said.

While at Cree, the president also spent about 10 minutes touring the company's LED assembly room with Cree officials. Among the workers he met was Josephine Lynch, a 43-year old mother of four from Raleigh. She had been unemployed for two and half years before she was hired two months ago by Cree. She had previously worked as a substitute schoolteacher in New Jersey.

She said her years of unemployment had been a struggle which she had only managed with the help of family.

"Keep up the great work," Obama said as he shook her hand.

"Oooh," said Lynch, afterwards, "I'm going to be the coolest mom on my block."

After the stop in Durham, President Obama left RDU around 3:15 p.m. He was to attend three fundraisers in donor-rich Miami. He will end his travels Tuesday in Puerto Rico.

Vice President Joe Biden visited Cree in March. Before that in May 2008, Obama - then a presidential candidate - visited the plant for a town hall meeting. During that meeting, he said America could create jobs through a green energy conservation economy. Since then as president, Obama has visited Forsyth Technical Community College and toured bio-tech classrooms.

Obama's last visit to the Triangle two years ago brought him to Broughton High School for a speech about promoting job creation and economic growth.

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