Obama's visit highlights Michigan-built technology - WNEM TV 5

Obama's visit highlights Michigan-built technology

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Media preparing for the president’s visit. Photo/Jeff Jenkins Media preparing for the president’s visit. Photo/Jeff Jenkins
Where the president will deliver his speech. Photo/Jeff Jenkins Where the president will deliver his speech. Photo/Jeff Jenkins
HOLLAND, MI (AP) -

President Barack Obama says that there is nothing wrong with America -- but there is something wrong with American politics.

He says Washington has seen the worst kind of partisanship and the worst kind of gridlock in recent months, and that it's undermined public confidence and made things worse instead of better. The president said people are frustrated and he is, too.

The president spoke Thursday at an advanced battery manufacturing plant in Holland, Mich., on his first official trip outside of Washington in weeks since negotiations on the debt crisis kept him stuck in the capital.

He said the downgrade of U.S. debt could have been entirely avoided if politicians had been willing to compromise.

Obama toured a Johnson Controls factory that makes advanced batteries for alternative-fuel vehicles such as hybrids or all-electrics. It's Obama's second stop in the western Michigan town in about a year.

In Michigan, where the unemployment rate was 10.5 percent in June, higher than the national rate, Obama was expected to talk about the benefits of spending money on producing such clean-energy technologies as advanced batteries: jobs and reduced consumption of foreign oil.

He calls them "jobs of the future" and says the U.S. should lead the way in developing energy sources that pollute less.

Johnson Controls has received a $3 million federal grant and expects to create 150 jobs at facilities in Michigan and Wisconsin, White House energy adviser Heather Zichal said.

Pete Hoekstra, former Michigan congressman and GOP candidate for the U.S. Senate, today issued the following statement regarding President Obama's visit to Johnson Controls in Holland, Michigan:

"I would like to welcome President Obama to my hometown of Holland where he will be discussing an issue that is so important to the people of Michigan: job creation. The way President Obama and Sen. Stabenow approach jobs, however, is through tax increases and by the will of the government. Their approach has failed Michigan workers and the American economy. As Michigan's next U.S. Senator, I will work to cut government spending and limit the size of the federal government so Michigan's small businesses are empowered to expand, innovate, and create jobs for generations of Michigan workers."

Republicans criticized Obama's trip as more focused on saving his own job than solving the country's economic woes.

"Everything that this president does is either a fundraiser or a political move in order to advance his march to a second term," said Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee.

GOP presidential hopefuls will be making their case for taking over the White House in a debate in Iowa Thursday night, just as Obama is scheduled to arrive in Manhattan for a pair of $35,800-a-ticket fundraisers for his re-election bid.

A Democratic official said Obama was to speak at a reception with about 15 people at the Ritz-Carlton hotel and a dinner for 50 at a private home. Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour and movie producer Harvey Weinstein are the dinner hosts. The reception host is Gary Hirshberg, chief executive officer of organic yogurt maker Stonyfield Farm.

The $35,800 admission price is the legal maximum per person. Obama's campaign keeps $5,000 and the Democratic National Committee pockets the remaining $30,800.

Obama's campaign canceled 10 fundraisers around the country last month so the president could stay in Washington to help negotiate a deal allowing the government to borrow more money and avoid defaulting on its bills.

With a deal now in place, Obama is trying to make up fundraising ground, although campaign officials have acknowledged that they won't bring in as much money this summer as the $86 million that was raised in the spring and shared with the DNC.

Thursday's fundraiser will be Obama's fifth campaign event since he signed the debt-ceiling bill into law on Aug. 2. It's also his third donor event of the week.

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Associated Press reporter Jeff Karoub in Detroit contributed to this report.

Darlene Superville can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/dsupervilleap

Copyright by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved

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