State News

Obama: 'We are beginning to turn the corner'

Posted April 2, 2010

— President Barack Obama told workers in Charlotte that the worst of the recession is in the past during a visit to Celgard LLC Friday.

"The truth is, these have been a very tough two years for North Carolina, and they've been a tough two years for the United States of America," he said.

"But today is an encouraging day."

The president cited a Labor Department report Friday that showed employers created 162,000 jobs in March, the biggest job gain since May 2007. The unemployment rate remained at 9.7 percent as more of the estimated 15 million unemployed Americans entered the job market.

North Carolina's unemployment rate stood at 11.2 percent in February, its highest since states started their current calculation method in 1976.

Obama toured Celgrad's plant where workers make separators for lithium-ion batteries and later joked while speaking to hundreds of workers.

"They're building separators to make sure diametrically opposed forces can work successfully together. I can't help to think we could use your help in Congress," he laughed.

Obama shared his administration's plans to create jobs such as those at Celgard and praised the company as an example of economic progress and job growth since he took office.

Bob Toth, CEO of Celgard's parent company Polypore International, Inc. (NYSE: PPO), said that grants from the economic stimulus program let the manufacturer hire 300 new workers and expand its operations in Charlotte and Concord.

"The tough measures that we took, measures that were necessary even though sometimes they were unpopular, have broken this slide and are helping us to climb out of this recession," Obama said, while speaking with workers at lunchtime.

In August, Celgard received a $49 million grant from stimulus funds to develop batteries for electric vehicles. North Carolina State University's College of Textiles is one of Celgard's three partners in that venture.

Alternative energy industries could produce more jobs in the coming decades if properly invested in now, and if that investment doesn't generate quick profit, the government will probably have to do it, Obama stressed in response to workers' questions about his clean energy policy.

He pointed to upgrading the electrical infrastructure as a necessary step to putting more electric and hybrid cars on the road. "That's an investment that only the government, with the help of the private sector, can do," he said.

Obama also took questions from workers about financial regulatory reform and the new health care overhaul.

Protesters, supporters greet president

Supporters and protesters lined Obama's route to and from the Charlotte airport. Some held up signs saying "Thank you" for the health care overhaul.

About 250 tea party activists and other protesters held up signs, waved American flags and shouted as the president's motorcade passes by. The signs read, "Stop spending," "Don't tread on me," "No to socialism" and simply "Nov. 2."

They focused more on the recent health care overhaul Obama signed into law than on his economic policies.

High Point businessman Larry Davidson said the health care overhaul will ruin what he called "the best health care system in the world."

"It's the end of health care as we know it," said Davidson, 59. "He just rammed it down everyone's throat. It was wrong. He didn't listen to the people."

Cardiologist Dr. James McGukin, 52, agreed.

"It's amazing what was done behind closed doors," McGukin said. "Many doctors are going to quit rather than deal with a socialist health care system. The changes are bad for doctors. Bad for the American people. This is socialism. Obama is not a leader; he's a dictator."

Craig Nannini, a leader of the Charlotte Tea Party, said the protest was an important way for people to show their opposition to Obama's policies.

"It's about the message, not the messenger," Nannini said. "He was fairly elected, and we respect the office he holds. What we want to do is show we are opposed to his politics."

He noted that this was the first protest for many in the crowd.

"Look at this. They are worried about their futures. That's why they're here. We're not going away. We're here to stay and we're going to make sure they hear our voices at the polls."

When he arrived at the airport, Obama was greeted by Gov. Bev Perdue, Mayor Anthony Foxx, Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., and N.C. Air National Guard commander Tony McMillan. Also present was Charlotte resident Teresa Gault, who has written to the president about the state of North Carolina's economy.

Former basketball Reggie Love, whose hometown in Charlotte, also flew into town with Obama. The basketball star got most of the attention from airport staffers, posing for pictures and signing autographs.


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  • soyousay Apr 2, 2010

    FULL of American Flags, Children and homemade signs. I met LOTS of very nice folks today from all over.

    Will all righty, they brought the kids and everything...and homeade signs tooo? Sounds like foreigners were in your midst though, outside agitators.

  • soyousay Apr 2, 2010

    Team Obama reminds me of Orwell's "1984".
    This has been done to death on the other topics...was this part of the morning email of inane points>
    That being said, should you actually have read the novel...which do know it wasns't about a ateam of anything right?

  • masontom56 Apr 2, 2010

    Team Obama reminds me of Orwell's "1984".

  • Thornedwolf Apr 2, 2010

    I dont ever recall useing the word Hope, further more I find it funny I go online to mention im for those who can talk rationaly and avoid petty bickering and hate mongering. The reply to this.......petty bickering and hate mongering its grand I get a laugh. Thanks for proveing a point. As for Obama I belive he was already elected and there for dosnt realy waste his time bashing on the Republicans, hell I dont even do that there good people. I voted for one here and there, Still got to admit there are a few right wingers by the name of the Tea Party that I dont rightfuly care for being as they yell out hateful fearful falsities as fact just for because they dont care for the big guy in office. Being devils advocate, dont you think theres just a better way around it. I dont know like reasearch, finding a canadat who isnt clearly an idoit and voteing them in the next term. Like I said I may of gone McCain if he kept to his running platform of the last two attempts, also if he kept Palin

  • Trabman_san Apr 2, 2010

    I just got back from there. Once again, the number of protestors has been skewed via the MSM. This story states ~ 250 protestors.... more like 400 actual. Once the folks get their personal videos up on Youtube, you can see for yourselves.

    And check out Celgards site. Majority of their "Manufacturing" is done in China, Korea & Japan....NOT Here in the USA. Another $49 Million dollars of money that your children & grandchildren will have to pay back.... Shipped overseas!

    And not one single American flag on the "Pro-Obama" side of the road. The Anti-Obama, side was FULL of American Flags, Children and homemade signs. I met LOTS of very nice folks today from all over.

  • wildcat Apr 2, 2010

    my corner will be turned once I get a good paying full time job. not until then. so whose corner is turning?

  • soyousay Apr 2, 2010

    What a joy to know that those here illegally are getting health care for free, and those born here are going to pay for it!

    You may not be drinking Koolaid (not healthy anyway) but you seem to be taking something or listening to am. Everybody gets a bill, some choose not to pay it, and most of those have English as their primary language and yes and they are right pale. Their cigarettes are tucked in their pockets too. It is the real reason health care is trouble, Americans or 'kans for those attached to odd spelling don't like to pay their bills.
    I have the data and experience and you have Rush who is a poster child for the ill effects of obesity I might add.

  • soyousay Apr 2, 2010

    Silver...I am sure Walmart will be hiring soon for greeters, just remember to smile and be nice to all the customers

  • SilverWolf Apr 2, 2010

    Tell us another lie, Mr. Obama. You seem to be very good at that. Take a ride through my hood, you'll see things aren't so peachy. Better yet, take a walk through my hood so you can see things close up, so you can see what your decisions have cost the majority of us over the last year. Enjoy your time in office, I expect it'll be a long time before anyone trusts you again. I know I won't and I don't think I am alone. Are you listening Miss Bev? The same goes for you.

  • SpunkyGrits The One and Only Apr 2, 2010

    I don't wear rose colored glasses nor did I drink the kool aid. A few "good" figures here and there do not a complete picture make. Who do you think is going to pay off all of the debt this man is making? Certainly not the man himself.