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White House emphasizes jobs before Obama's visit to Hawaii

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 07:22 a.m. HST, Nov 10, 2011


WASHINGTON >>  President Barack Obama is about to embark on a nine-day trip to Hawaii, Australia and Indonesia that will take him away from Washington at an important time, but White House officials said Wednesday it’s all about U.S. jobs. 

The trip also will underscore the economic, political and security importance of the fast-growing Asia-Pacific region, which the U.S. sees as critical to American interests in coming years. 

“The president’s No. 1 priority is job creation, and our efforts to create American jobs are tied very directly to our engagement in the Asia-Pacific,” said Ben Rhodes, a White House deputy national security adviser. 

“Increasingly the center of gravity in the 21st century is going to make the Asia-Pacific critical to all of our interests,” Rhodes said.  

Obama leaves Friday for Hawaii, where the U.S. will host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, bringing together 21 member nations which together comprise 40 percent of the world’s population. 

From there, he makes a long-delayed visit to Australia, after canceling Australia trips twice last year, once so he could stay in Washington to lobby for his health care overhaul and a second time because of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The president ends his trip in Indonesia, where he spent several years as a boy, to attend the East Asia Summit with a focus on political and security challenges.  

Obama returns to Washington Nov. 19, just before a congressional supercommittee faces a pre-Thanksgiving deadline to recommend more than $1 trillion in deficit cuts. The trip also comes as the 2012 presidential campaign heats up amid continued economic doldrums in the U.S. and pressure on Obama to take action. 

That makes it a tough time for Obama to be tending to foreign rather than domestic affairs. But White House officials said that U.S. voters want to see the president show leadership in an important region of the world and that increased trade with burgeoning Asia will pay economic dividends back home as Obama seeks to make good on plans to double U.S. exports.

“The American people want to know that the United States is going to play the historic role that it’s always played in terms of being the anchor of stability in this part of the world and being able to project our influence on behalf of American interests,” Rhodes said. 

Priorities for the trip include working on a new trade agreement with Asian nations following long-sought congressional approval of a Korea free trade pact. There is likely to be discussion of China and its rising military might, which other Asian nations look to the U.S. to counter.  

In Australia, the president visits the capital, Canberra, as well as Darwin, site of an Australian military base, where discussion is expected to focus on an emerging defense agreement that would let the U.S. to expand its military presence in Australia. 

Kim Beazley, Australia’s ambassador to the U.S., said in an interview Wednesday, “The fact that he’s turning up is in itself enormously important” after canceling two previous trips. 

“The main point of the visit is a sort of reinforcement of our relationship. The relationship is changing,” Beazley said. “It’s basically being changed, not so much by how Americans and Australians see each other but by geopolitics. Australia’s geographic location is becoming increasingly important to the U.S.” 

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palani wrote:
Given his pitiful "jobs" record and his aggressive anit-business posturing, Obama might be better advised to just keep quiet. In fact, since APEC is presumably about economic advancement and cooperation, he should probably stay home and let Australia, Japan, China, and the four Asian Tigers (Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Singapore) set the tone. Our president can then pretend to lead from behind, as he did in the Libyan conflict.
on November 9,2011 | 12:56PM
ISCREAM wrote:
President Obama has recently created several new jobs as he has created a new bureaucracy called the "Christmas Tree Bureau"...job ... to promote Christmas trees....paid for by a tax on Christmas trees...now there is hope and change!
on November 9,2011 | 04:48PM
HD36 wrote:
More vacations, in the name of creating jobs. The only thing he can do to create more jobs is fire half the government!
on November 9,2011 | 05:22PM
Carang_da_buggahz wrote:
Nothing but more hollow Obama rhetoric.
on November 9,2011 | 05:32PM
steveoctober wrote:
Job creation ? Economic stimulus? This is a guy who's never held a position of a corporate executive, not even a middle manager, never was involved as a leader other than a community organizer, and a mediocre one at that. Fact is, this guy would never have got near the doors of APEC with the kind of business credentials he has.
on November 9,2011 | 05:48PM
vernchs wrote:
Remember, jobs is a top priority, job is a top priority, jobs is a top priority,,,,, Three years later, same message, jobs will be emphasized at APEC. What a waste of good taxpayers' money. Ever heard of video confrencing? What's the difference between the Gov and Obama? Nothing except one is short and white.
on November 9,2011 | 07:03PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
Emphasize jobs? Does this mean BHO is emphasizing Steve Jobs LOL ??
on November 9,2011 | 09:58PM
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