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Obama Rallies Business Allies

Taking a page directly out of the playbook of his immediate predecessor, President Barack Obama on Wednesday convened a meeting of business leaders and then trotted them out to promote legislation he wants — in this case the $825 billion stimulus bill up for a vote in the House today.

Appearing in the East Room following what he called a “sober meeting,” Obama demanded quick Congressional action on the stimulus measure. “The businesses that are shedding jobs to stay afloat, they can’t afford inaction or delay,” Obama said.

Obama acknowledged concerns about the size of the bill, but he promised “unprecedented” accountability measures and a major drive to root out wasteful spending. And Obama again took a vow of transparency, pointing to a new Web site,, that will detail measures in the legislation.

Obama was introduced by Honeywell Chairman and CEO David Cote, who made no effort to conceal his enthusiasm for the new president and his stimulus plan. “You can count on us,” Cote said. “Thank God you are not a timid man.” Cote was preceded by IBM Chairman and CEO Samuel Palmisano, whose company makes the type of high-tech products Obama wants to promote, and who appeared equally enthralled.

“I cannot tell how excited we are about the president’s commitment to lead us to the future,” he said. Palmisano asserted that in the corporate world there is “a unanimous commitment and support for the president.”

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