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Thursday
Jan192012

Obama at Disney: 'America Is Open for Business'

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- Standing on Main Street, USA in Disney’s Magic Kingdom, President Obama on Thursday promoted the need for a strategy to encourage international tourism and boost job creation in the battleground state of Florida, and across the country, ahead of the 2012 election.

“The more folks who visit America, the more Americans we get back to work.  It's that simple,” the president said. “That's why we're all here today, to tell the world that America is open for business.”

Announcing his goal to make America the, “top tourist destination in the world,” Obama outlined plans to speed up the visa process and make it easier for tourists in fast-growing nations, such as China, India and Brazil, to travel to the U.S. Tourists from these countries currently spend more than $5,000 per trip, according to the White House, and one job is created for every 65 additional people who visit the U.S.

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The Walt Disney Company President and CEO Bob Iger told ABC News that streamlining the visa process has “enormous” potential to create jobs in the U.S.

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“Changing our visa policy and investing more in the process to make it easier for people to get visas and travel to the United States would be a great boon for the American economy because the international tourist comes, stays longer, spends money, and that creates jobs,” Iger said. The Walt Disney Company is the parent company of ABC News.

Obama’s trip to Florida comes before the January 31 presidential primary, though the White House claims the decision to make the announcement in the contested state was not political.
 
“We've got the best product to sell.  I mean, look at where we are,” the president said as he stood in front of Cinderella Castle. “We've got the most entertaining destinations in the world.”

Even the president seemed swept up by the, “most magical place on earth.”

“I confess, I am excited to see Mickey,” Obama said. “It's always nice to meet a world leader who has bigger ears than me.” While he was standing at a premier commercial destination, the president also emphasized the nation’s natural wonders and monuments.

Republicans, however, claim Thursday’s event marked yet another stop on the president’s campaign trail.

“We need to call this visit today what it actually is. It’s a campaign trip to a very important battleground state of Florida where the president, quite frankly, is doing very poorly in the polls at best,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said.

GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich also pounced, apologizing to tourists for Obama's appearance, which, ironically, for security reasons shut down portions of the Magic Kingdom to the very tourists the president spoke of attracting. "I apologize to all those people who for months had planned to take their children and go to the Magic Kingdom," Gingrich reportedly said at a stump event in Beaufort, South Carolina. "But after all -- who are they, compared to Obama?"

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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