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Posted at 5:05 PM ET, 02/18/2011

Intel chief sounds a gentler note on Obama

By Perry Bacon Jr.

HILLSBORO, Ore. -- Apparently Paul Otellini has decided that President Obama understands something about the U.S. economy after all.

In 2010, the chief executive of Intel repeatedly attacked the president's economic policies, telling CNNMoney in an interview in September: "The decisions so far have not resulted in either job growth or increased confidence. When what you're doing isn't working you rethink it, and I think we need to rethink some plans."

But making an appearance at an Intel semiconductor manufacturing facility Friday, Otellini sounded a more positive note.

"I'm pleased the president and his administration have taken a number of steps to invest in innovation and education," he said before introducing Obama.

He added, "I commend the president for his leadership" on innovation and education.

Obama then praised Intel and Otellini for hiring U.S. workers and being a innovation leader in the country and for sponsoring education programs in math and science, which was the focus of his speech.

"You're a corporation that understands investing in education is also a good business model," Obama said.

Since the election, in which business interests lined up to back GOP candidates after two years of Obama administration policies they hated, the president and his team have started doggedly courting business executives and groups. He has not only appeared at numerous
companies to tout their achievements, but actively sought out former critics, speaking at the Chamber of Commerce early this month and putting Otellini on a newly-formed White House council on "jobs and competitiveness."

So far, so good for Obama. The business groups, if not outright supportive, have at least toned down their criticism.

And that might help Obama on something beyond getting business support for his economic agenda. The president raised millions of dollars online in his 2008 campaign, but also relied heavily on the donations of people from Wall Street, Silicon Valley and other corporate centers to raise money. Democrats preparing for the 2012 campaign are quietly trying to rebuild those fundraising ties.

When Obama comes calling for money, it will no doubt help that he has sought out these business executives, traveling five hours Thursday to meet with Apple's Steve Jobs, Otellini and a few others at the home of venture capitalist John Doerr.

By Perry Bacon Jr.  | February 18, 2011; 5:05 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency, Barack Obama, Economy, Eye on 2012  
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