Obama touts jobs bill in Emporia

Published 10:08 am Wednesday, October 19, 2011

President Barack Obama stopped in Emporia Tuesday to promote the American Jobs bill. He spoke at Greensville County High School before his motorcade passed through Western Tidewater during a tour of North Carolina and Virginia. Dale Liesch | Tidewater News

EMPORIA—It’s not often that a city of 6,000 residents becomes the center of the political world.

That is, unless the president of the United States stops by for a visit.

President Barack Obama made a stop at Greensville County High School in Emporia on Tuesday during a tour of North Carolina and Virginia to tout his jobs legislation, which is under consideration by Congress.

Emporia Mayor Sam Adams said there was a sense of excitement throughout the city as word of the president’s visit got around.

“It puts us on the map for one day,” Adams said. “It’s a great thing for the community.”

Greensville County officials spent a lot of their time answering phones after they were given word of the visit on Friday.

“We spent a day-and-a-half taking phone calls requesting tickets,” said County Administrator Dave Whittington. “There was a great deal of interest from people who wanted to attend this event.”

The attention was very positive for the county, said Greensville County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Peggy Wiley.

“It’s a great day,” Wiley said. “It gives us a lot of attention. That’s for certain.”

State Delegate Roslyn Tyler, D-Jarratt, and state Sen. Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth, were also in attendance. They each represent districts that include parts of Western Tidewater.

“People want to be here and they are excited to be here,” Tyler said of the event. “The fact that the president of the United States would come to a small community like this is impressive.”

Among those excited to be in attendance were Lawrenceville 10-year-olds Stanley Artis and Dasan Shell, who came with family members to see the president speak.

“I wanted an autograph,” Stanley said. “I think he’s nice.”

Korean War veteran and Emporia resident George Carter was on hand to listen to the president.

“I thought it was a great idea for him to come to Emporia because I’ve never been in a room with a president,” Carter said.

Obama chose Emporia as one of several cities in Virginia and North Carolina to promote his $35 billion American Jobs bill.

He told the crowd that the legislation, which hasn’t had enough Republican support to even be discussed in the Senate, would help create 2 million jobs and would not increase the budget deficit.

Obama said he plans to pay for the bill by taxing the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans, including himself.

“We can afford it,” he told the crowd. “Let’s give a good deal to hard-working Americans.”

Obama said his plan is designed to put teachers, public safety and construction workers back to work and would help the middle class, as well as help those trying to get to the middle class. He said the plan would not increase taxes for 97 percent to 98 percent of Americans.

The bill would create 11,000 new teaching jobs in Virginia alone, he said, helping students in the state and across the country compete in a global economy.

“We are competing with places like Germany and China, and they are focused on making sure children are top-notch in math and science,” Obama said. “Here in the United States, budget cuts are causing us to lose teachers. We can’t let other countries hire more teachers and help students compete in a global economy while we do nothing.”

Obama said he expects congressional action soon on the jobs bill, but this time it will be separated into smaller bills.

“I need all of you to tell the Senate to put teachers back to work,” he said. “Ask the Senate to pay for it by making folks like me pay their fair share.”

Obama will travel to Langley Air Force Base in Hampton today as his bus tour through Virginia continues.