Obama Promotes Small Business Aid, Raises Money for Democrats

President Barack Obama today promoted the steps his administration has taken to help small businesses as he opened the final week before the midterm elections to determine control of Congress.

Obama used the setting of a small business in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, which got a Small Business Administration loan to expand operations and has begun rehiring employees laid off during the recession. He also will be raising money for Democratic House candidates in Providence.

“When our small businesses don’t do well, America doesn’t do well,” Obama said after touring American Cord & Webbing Co., which makes cords and fasteners. “Over the past 20 months we’ve done everything we can to boost small businesses like this one.”

Obama highlighted legislation he backed that combined $56 billion in tax cuts and a $30 billion program to help community banks increase landing. It also revives stimulus provisions cutting fees and increasing limits on loan guarantees offered by the SBA.

While he’s also raising money for his party while in Rhode Island, at least one Democrat in the state isn’t happy to see him. Obama won’t be using his visit to boost Democratic gubernatorial candidate Frank Caprio, who is in a close race with independent Lincoln Chafee.

No Endorsement

Chafee, a former Republican senator turned independent, crossed party lines to back Obama in the 2008 presidential race and the president won’t make an endorsement in the Rhode Island governor’s campaign.

“Out of respect for Lincoln Chafee, the president decided not to get involved in this race,” Bill Burton, an administration spokesman, said as the president flew to Rhode Island.

Caprio, in an interview on radio station WPRO this morning, said that Obama “can take his endorsement and really shove it as far as I’m concerned.” He accused Obama of ignoring the state during recent flooding and now is “treating us like an ATM machine.”

The unemployment rate in Rhode Island was 11.5 percent in September, compared to the national rate of 9.6 percent. Polls show that voter concern over the economy is a major factor in the congressional election campaign.

The nonpartisan Cook Political Report projects Democrats will lose at least 40 seats in the House, costing the president’s party control, and lose 7 to 9 seats in the Senate. Democrats currently have 57 seats in the 100-member Senate, with two independent members also supporting the party.

Democrats are projected to retain both congressional districts in Rhode Island.

To contact the reporter on this story: Nicholas Johnston in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, at 1264 or njohnston3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net.

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