SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — President Barack Obama said Friday that "putting the economy into overdrive" is a top priority, even as a new poll showed the public giving him poor marks in this area.
The Associated Press-GfK poll underscored the selling job that confronts the president as he prepares to seek a second term: People like Obama personally, but just 35 percent say the economy's gotten better during his tenure.
GE chief to get top economic job
Appearing in Schenectady, New York, on Friday, Obama announced that he was naming General Electric Co. CEO Jeffrey Immelt as the head of a Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, his latest move to court a business community that he's clashed with amid continued high unemployment. Addressing workers at a GE plant, Obama recommitted himself to spending the next two years trying to speed up the economic recovery. His success or failure there is likely to be the central issue of the coming 2012 presidential campaign.
"Our job is to do everything we can to ensure that businesses can take root, and folks can find good jobs," the president said.
'We're going to build stuff and invent stuff'
"We're going to build stuff, and invent stuff," said Obama, emphasizing the need to boost American exports to countries around the world, an issue that was a focus during the visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao to the White House this week.
"That's where the customers are. It's that simple," Obama said.
His choice of Immelt to head the competitiveness panel won applause from the Chamber of Commerce, which called it a "promising step" toward creating jobs and enhancing U.S. competitiveness. But the Alliance for American Manufacturing condemned the choice, dismissing Immelt as "an outsourcing CEO" whose appointment would "alienate working class voters." That underscored a fine line for Obama in pushing for growth into the global marketplace while still looking out for the interests of U.S. workers.
The competitiveness panel replaces Obama's Economic Recovery Advisory Board, which had been chaired by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker. Obama announced late Thursday that Volcker, as expected, was ending his tenure.