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Obama Meets With Bay Area Technology Leaders

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President Barack Obama raises a glass with tech executives at a dinner in Woodside (White House Photo/Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama raises a glass with tech executives at a dinner in Woodside (White House Photo/Pete Souza)

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REDWOOD CITY (CBS / AP / BCN) — President Barack Obama came to the Bay Area on Thursday evening to push his plan to spend billions more on education, meeting with Apple’s ailing leader Steve Jobs and the chiefs of Facebook and Google.

Obama wants to spend more on education despite his call for a five-year freeze on other government spending. He says an educated work force will attract jobs and help the U.S. compete with the rest of the world. The budget proposal he delivered this week seeks $13 billion more for education.

His visit to the politically friendly Bay Area is partly designed to spotlight his focus on education and prod Republicans to support the higher spending. Republicans are pursuing steep spending cuts instead.

With the trip, Obama is also trying to burnish his image as a leader who is listening to the ideas of innovators and who, while faced with a tough budget environment, isn’t afraid to push for spending increases in areas such as education and clean energy that he thinks will create lasting, forward-looking jobs.

Obama deplaned Air Force One after it touched down at 5:40 p.m. at San Francisco International Airport. He was greeted on the tarmac by San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, and state Attorney General Kamala Harris.

The president then spent about two minutes shaking hands with about three-dozen members of the public before boarding the Marine One helicopter, which took off for a private dinner about 5:55 p.m.

Obama met leaders in technology and innovation, including Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg, during the dinner at a home in Redwood City on Thursday evening. The social networking site has more than 500 million users worldwide and has turned its 26-year-old founder into a billionaire.

Among the other business leaders Obama met with were Google chief executive Eric Schmidt; and Jobs, the Apple founder and CEO who announced last month that he was taking his third medical leave.

KCBS’ Larry Magid Reports:

The White House said the meeting is another in the series of periodic discussions the president has been having with business leaders to explore ways they can collaborate to expand the economy and create jobs. The meeting was closed to media coverage.

“The meeting in the Bay Area is a part of our ongoing dialogue with the business community on how we can work together to win the future, strengthen our economy, support entrepreneurship, and get the American people back to work,” a statement released by the White House said.

KCBS’ Margie Shafer Reports:

Obama last visited California during a four-state swing in October, when he stumped for California’s U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, who won re-election. Obama handily won California in the 2008 presidential election.

The president was to leave the Bay Area on Friday morning and head to Hillsboro, Oregon, to visit an Intel Corp. plant with CEO Paul Otellini and learn about the company’s STEM, or Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, education programs.

Otellini has criticized the Obama administration, saying Obama’s policies have caused too much uncertainty for businesses and have not led to job growth or increased consumer confidence.

Since that criticism, Obama has stressed the role of innovation as a key element of the job-creation agenda he is pursuing as he looks ahead to his re-election campaign next year.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press and Bay City News contributed to this report.)

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