Obama Touts Economic Benefits of Clean-Energy Technology during Columbus Visit

Speaking to a crowd during a whistle-stop in Columbus, Ohio on Wednesday, President Barack Obama held up Toledo as an example of how America’s manufacturing hubs are reinventing themselves. Mr. Obama was in town to raise funds for Ohio’s governor, Ted Strickland, and other fellow Democrats. It was the president’s ninth visit to the buckeye state since taking office 19 months ago.

President Obama said his administration’s investment in clean-energy technology is beginning to pay dividends and cited Toledo as clear evidence of the progress being made.

“Toledo is actually becoming a leader in [clean-energy technology], he said. “ Creating good jobs in areas like building solar panels, wind turbines, advanced-battery manufacturing. There is a whole series of huge potential manufacturing industries in which we end up being world leaders and, as a bonus, end up creating a more energy-efficient economy that is also good for the environment.”

He also highlighted General Motors Company’s new advance-battery technology being used in its Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid vehicle.

President Obama sported his now-familiar town hall meeting appearance, clasping a hand-held microphone with shirt sleeves rolled to the elbows as he addressed the crowd of about 40 supporters gathered in the backyard of Columbus resident Joe Weithman .

Weithman, the owner of a Columbus-based architectural firm, and his wife both benefitted from the Obama Administration’s $787 billion economic stimulus package. Weithman’s firm was awarded a stimulus-funded contract to renovate a Columbus police station. Stimulus money also subsidized the family’s healthcare insurance when Weithman’s wife, Rhonda, became unemployed.

“You combine that with an entire new U.S. auto industry that is cleaner and smarter, has better designs, and is making better products,” he said, “those are potentially thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs.”

“The Midwest is really poised to get a lot of those jobs. And a town like Toledo, where you’ve still got a lot of skilled workers, they are poised to be able to take off on that,” he said.

Ohio’s jobless rate is currently a full percentage rate above the national average at 10.5% and some, including Ohio’s Republican state auditor Mary Taylor, took exception with the president’s rosy view of the recovery. She said, “More than 130,000 jobs have been lost in Ohio since February, 2009, when the President’s ‘stimulus’ spending bill became law and helped explode the national debt to $13 trillion.”

Democrat governor Ted Strickland said of the president’s visit, “I think he’s doing a lot of good things for the country, and I’m happy he’s come to Ohio to talk about it.” Strickland’s campaign declined to say how much money was generated by the fundraiser but said that the event was a sell-out with 600 seated attendants and another 100 standing. Ticket prices ranged from $100 for standing-room-only to $2,000 for a luncheon with President Obama and other Democratic Party luminaries.

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