For anyone who failed to spend Friday evening watching C-SPAN, you missed a chance to see President Obama address The Business Council, which describes itself as “an association of the chief executive officers of the world’s most important business enterprises.”
“Membership is personal, not corporate, and by invitation,” the council’s Web site explains.
In any event, Obama spoke to The Business Council in the East Room of The White House on Friday to tell the CEOs that the $789-billion economic stimulus plan was good for the nation. Obama told the council members that he needed their help and that government needed the thoughts of the nation’s business leaders.
It all took about 15 minutes. Obama then mixed with the crowd, shaking hands and thanking the top dogs for coming.
He came to one familiar looking fellow, and the C-Span microphone picked a little of the exchange.
Rockwell Collins’ CEO Clay Jones introduced himself to Obama and noted that he was there from Cedar Rapids.
Obama connected with Cedar Rapids, of course. It was his first presidential campaign stop after announced his campaign for the presidency in Springfield, Ill., in Feb. 10, 2007.
“How’s Cedar Rapids?” Obama asked Rockwell’s Jones, shaking his hand.
“We need a little help there, sir,” Jones told Obama in this eye-to-eye moment.
The exchange continued for a few seconds, out of microphone range. Obama seemed to say that he was aware of Cedar Rapids’ flood recovery, and he could be heard mentioning Gov. Chet Culver’s name.
Jones had a few seconds at Obama. And the Rockwell Collins CEO wasn’t talking the aviation industry, he wasn’t telling Obama how wonderful he was. He doing a one-CEO lobbying campaign for Cedar Rapids — the chief of Cedar Rapids most major employer, eyeball-to-eyeball with Obama.
There have been thousands of pleas in Cedar Rapids about the need to lobby Washington, D.C., for disaster funds. City and community delegations have been to the nation’s capital, and City Hall is paying a D.C. firm $120,000 a year to make its case.
Where Friday’s interchange between Rockwell Collins’ Jones fits in is hard to know.