President Barack Obama’s speech at the National Baseball Hall of Fame on May 22 drew praise from a number of local people who attended the event.
“It was uplifting,” said Carol Waller, a former Cooperstown mayor who now serves as the constituent services representative for Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook, in his district office in Cooperstown.
The short speech was delivered after Obama toured the HOF. In it, the president talked about the economy and job creation, emphasizing the importance of tourism for both.
The president said that travel and tourism are responsible for $1.5 trillion in economic activity and nearly eight million jobs in the U.S. Noting that 70 million international tourists visited the country last year, Obama set a goal of increasing that number to 100 million by the beginning of the next decade. He also said that, at present, no other country earns more from international tourism than the U.S.
The chief initiative Obama spoke about was an effort to decrease wait times for international tourists at airports, while at the same time keeping security as the top priority.
The president also made sure to single out Cooperstown and the HOF throughout his speech. Expressing pride at being the first sitting president to visit the village and the HOF, Obama praised the area for its beauty. He noted seeing memorabilia from the Chicago White Sox, his favorite team. The president also said that he donated an item to the HOF at their request. The item Obama chose was the jacket he wore when he threw out the first pitch at the 2009 All-Star Game.
The president’s visit and words were appreciated by a number of people who attended the speech.
“Obviously it was awesome that the president was here,” said Deborah Taylor, executive director of Otsego County Tourism. “His message was very good about … increasing international tourism.”