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Obama reprises State of the Union themes, praises Intel

President Barack Obama speaks about manufacturing and jobs during a visit to Intel Corporation's Ocotillo facility Wednesday. (Photo by Ryan Cook/RJ Cook Photography)

With Intel’s Chandler factory serving as a backdrop and an example of the kinds of high-tech manufacturing jobs he wants to bring back to the United States, President Barack Obama reprised much of his State of the Union address in Arizona during a speech today.

Standing before thousands of cheering supporters and Intel employees, Obama praised the microprocessor manufacturer as the type of company that will help create an “America built to last” – the title and theme of his State of the Union address Tuesday night. The president said the United States should be offering incentives to high-tech manufacturers to create new jobs in the U.S. and bring back jobs that were outsourced to other countries.

“The factory behind us is an example of the America that is within our reach,” Obama told the crowd while standing before the largest land-based crane in the world. He added that the facility would employ thousands of people when completed.

“I’m proud of companies like Intel that create jobs here.”

The president thanked Intel for its investments in start-up companies and support for the education needed for such high-tech industries. He urged students to study engineering and other fields that would help the U.S. attract and retain manufacturing jobs from companies like Intel.

As he did in his State of the Union address on Tuesday, the president spoke of an American auto industry that has returned from the abyss, urged changes to the tax code that would impose the “Buffett Rule” on millionaires’ income and demanded that Congress extend the payroll tax cut that sparked a massive showdown between himself and congressional Republicans in late 2011.

He also urged an end to tax breaks for oil companies, saying the money should be redirected to clean energy technologies that would help create jobs and end America’s dependence on foreign oil.

“We’ll remind the world once again why the United States of America is the greatest country on earth,” Obama said at the end of the speech.

The speech was well attended by local mayors, lawmakers and Democratic dignitaries. The VIP section included Reps. Chad Campbell, Steve Farley, Ruben Gallego, Catherine Miranda, Daniel Patterson and Anna Tovar, and Sen. David Schapira. Mayors Scott Smith, of Mesa, and Greg Stanton, of Phoenix, attended after meeting Obama at the airport. Several of the lawmakers spoke with Obama before the speech.

Chandler Mayor Jay Tibshraeny said Obama spoke of lofty goals that would bring good jobs to the country. He said he hoped Obama would help secure infrastructure financing for companies like Intel.

“Anything the state and the federal government can do to help local governments like us keep these industries and help finance these industries is very helpful,” said Tibshraeny, a Republican.

Stanton, a Democrat, said he was pleased that Obama showed so much support for Intel, “which is doing the right thing by investing in America” and said the president’s policies on eliminating tax incentives for companies that outsource jobs was “right on track.”

The Phoenix mayor said he especially liked Obama’s talk of tax code reform and support for American manufacturing, as well as his support for comprehensive immigration reform, which the president talked about in his State of the Union but did not mention during his Chandler speech.

Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry President and CEO Glenn Hamer was a bit more subdued about the future, and said he gives a lot of credit for Intel’s continued expansion in the state to Gov. Jan Brewer and the Legislature.

“We all want to see more manufacturing in this country,” Hamer said. “It would be nice if, in the final year of his presidency, he can work with the Congress and enact policies that will help to bring more jobs to this state.”

Earlier in the day, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and U.S. Rep. Ben Quayle, R-Phoenix, issued a preemptive criticism of Obama’s speech and the five-state tour that followed the State of the Union. In a conference call with reporters, Priebus said the trip was nothing more than a series of campaign speeches, and he accused the president of breaking his campaign promises from 2008.

“Clearly, the president’s State of the Union address last night and his taxpayer-funded campaign stop in Arizona makes it abundantly clear that this president has given up on governing and has gone into full-time campaign mode,” Priebus said.

Quayle, who represents Arizona’s 3rd Congressional District, criticized the Obama administration for suing Arizona over its anti-illegal immigration law, SB1070, for enacting new Environmental Protection Agency regulations that could jeopardize a coal-fired power plant in the Navajo Nation and for declaring land in northern Arizona off-limits to uranium mining.

Quayle said the president should lean on Senate Democrats to pass a budget, and urged him to push through a federal land swap that would allow Resolution Copper to open a mine near Superior.

And while four of the states on Obama’s three-day swing – Iowa, Colorado, Michigan and Nevada – are considered swing states, Quayle said the president can forget about competing for Arizona in the 2012 elections.

“Last night, we watched the president launch his re-election campaign during the State of the Union,” Quayle said. “I was surprised that he chose Arizona to launch this tour because Arizona is not going to be a battleground state.”

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