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Obama says U.S. has been 'lazy' about attracting business

November 12, 2011|By Peter Nicholas
  • President Obama meets with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Honolulu on Saturday.
President Obama meets with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev during the… (Kent Nishimura / European…)

Reporting from Honolulu — Does President Obama believe the country he leads has the right stuff?

Every now and then Obama lets slip that he doesn't believe his countrymen are all that tough.

Back in September he told a TV station that the U.S. had “gotten a little soft’’ when it came to competing in international markets.

On Saturday, speaking at a business forum on the sidelines of an economic summit in Honolulu, he said the U.S. had been “lazy’’ when it came to enticing businesses to invest in America.

“But we’ve been a little bit lazy, I think, over the last couple of decades,’’ the president said. “We’ve kind of taken for granted -- well, people will want to come here and we aren’t out there hungry, selling America and trying to attract new business into America."

Soft and lazy. Sounds like America could use a few months on Parris Island.

Not that he’s lost hope. In the first year of his term, he gave a healthcare speech and proclaimed that "we can do great things.’’

This year, in his State of the Union speech, he was no less optimistic.

Americans, he said, are a people who “do big things.’’

“Lazy’’ is a strong word, though, and in a staid talk about trade and currency policy, it caused a bit of a stir.

Afterward, a few business leaders briefed reporters. Jake Tapper of ABC News asked about Obama’s word choice. Would they use the word “lazy”?

"I would not," Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said.

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