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At Baseball Hall of Fame, Obama touts tourism as economic driver, job creator

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Albany/HV: At Baseball Hall of Fame, Obama touts tourism as economic driver, job creator
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COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- It was not lost on President Obama that this was the first visit to the Baseball Hall of Fame by a sitting chief executive. He spent several minutes before his speech reviewing some of the collections at Cooperstown.

And, adding to them with the jacket he wore the night he threw the opening pitch at the 2009 All-Star Game is among the donations.

"I hear that with all the media attention about it, there was also some interest in the jeans I wore that night. But, Michelle retired those jeans, quite a while back," Obama joked.

The president had begun the day, meeting with tourism leaders at the White House, taking new executive actions to help grow the industry. Actions that he said are made necessary by a less than cooperative Congress.

"They seem to be more interested in politics right now than performance. And that's a challenge," Obama said. "If Congress isn't going to act then I'm going to do whatever and take any steps I can take to create jobs and opportunities for more working families."

One of his first actions is to make it easier for international visitors to enter the United States, to boost the tourism industry.

The president told his audience that, just the day before, he had taken an unannounced stroll along the National Mall.

"In that little span of time, I met tourists from Germany and Israel and Brazil and China and Ukraine on the national mall," he said. "I want to turn the 70 million tourists that came last year into a 100 million each year by the beginning of the next decade."

The president hopes to use a new organization Brand USA, which is active in selling U.S. travel to overseas customers. One of the places they push for those travelers to visit is the Baseball Hall of Fame.

"When visitors come here, they don't just check out the hall. They rent cars, they stay in hotels, they eat in restaurants and that means, for upstate New York, the Baseball Hall of Fame is a powerful economic engine," Obama said.

Obama closed his speech again stressing the history that surrounded him on this day. History that holds lessons, he claims, for dealing with very current problems.

"When you come to the Baseball Hall of Fame, part of what you're learning is that there's some eternal, timeless values of grit and determination and hard work and community and not giving up and working hard. Those are American values. Just like baseball," the president said.

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