Obama's Cleveland business chat
February 22nd, 2011
01:15 PM ET

Obama's Cleveland business chat

CLEVELAND, Ohio (CNN) - The president traveled to northeast Ohio today to hold a small business forum with members of his Cabinet, including Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, and economic advisors Austan Goolsbee and Gene Sperling.

"How can America help you succeed, so you can help America succeed?" President Obama asked a roomful of about 150 Cleveland small business owners, evoking JFK and tweaking the famous "ask not what your country can do for you" line. On the campus of Cleveland State University, the president and his cabinet are giving a high level platform to local business leaders. "We are going to do something a little different today. I did not come to Cleveland to talk; instead I came here to listen," he began his remarks.

The president spoke for just about seven minutes and explained to the crowd that this was no stunt. While the press was invited to cover the opening and closing remarks, most of the five sessions today are behind closed doors. "This is a working session, not a photo-op, so I expect all of you will express your opinions clearly," he said. "We want your stories, your successes, your failures, what barriers you're seeing out there to expand, what you've learned along the way. What would make it easier for you to grow? What would make it easier for you to create new jobs?"

Before the doors were closed to the press, the president was sure to make a quick plug for one of the businesses in the audience. "We look for entrepreneurs here in Northeast Ohio who live to out-hustle, to out-innovate everybody else, in manufacturing and construction, in clean energy and biotech, in retail and restaurants – including the owners of Bubba's Bar-B-Q, who I imagine will be one of the more popular participants today," he joked.

No word on if the president was able to sample the small business' product.

Topics: Ohio • Small Business • The News

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soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Jay in NC

    Barry said "I am all ears" and for once I agree with him.

    February 22, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
    • XWngLady

      Whatever. He looks good with those ears....and I'm sure Michelle likes them just fine.

      February 23, 2011 at 11:59 am |
  2. Liz Carter in Georgia

    It's all about his policies isn't it Jay?

    February 23, 2011 at 9:29 am |
  3. XWngLady

    "evoking JFK and tweaking the famous "ask not what your country can do for you" line."....C'mon now, that's a stretch. I think President Obama is capable of communicating his thoughts and ideas well enough that he doesn't need to "borrow" from JFK.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • Jay in NC

      I agree, Barry is capable of communicating his thoughts and ideas. "I've now been in 57 states - I think one left to go." –at a campaign event in Beaverton, Oregon

      February 24, 2011 at 7:14 am |
  4. Liz Carter in Georgia

    Jay, there were many blunders made by most of the candidates, including McCAIN on the campaign trail. I would ask you if that was all you got, but I know you've kept a ledger from day one, of all that could be construed as bad or negative against FORMER SEN OBAMA, now PRESIDENT, all the way through today; and nothing good or positive, period! That's what you do! Does that misstatement necessarily suggest a questionable conclusion that PRESIDENT OBAMA is able to 'commuicate his thoughts and ideas'? Pitiful!

    February 25, 2011 at 5:30 pm |