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Eye on home, Obama heads for Asia-Pacific summit

November 12, 2011 • National News


President Hu Jintao, right, President of the People’s Republic of China, addresses the U.S. APEC Business Coalition during a meeting at the Sheraton Waikiki, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2011 in Honolulu. (AP Photo/ Marco Garcia)

CORONADO, Calif. (AP) — President Barack Obama is jetting away from Washington’s political and budget battles just as crucial decisions and deadlines approach, focusing instead on Asia-Pacific nations and trying to persuade voters at home the distant region is essential to American jobs and security.

Obama departed Friday for summits in Hawaii and Indonesia and a visit to Australia in between.

For nine days, the president will be as many as 10,000 miles from home at a time when jobs, the frail economy and other domestic concerns matter most to the U.S. electorate. But Asia and the Pacific region are crucial to America’s future, the White House insists.

Obama was born in Hawaii, spent boyhood years in Indonesia and points to himself as America’s first Pacific president, so his worldview is shaped deeply by Asia. His administration is showering attention on the region as a driver of global politics, a prized buyer of American products and a central player in protecting world peace.

“If you want America to be a world leader in this century, that leadership is going to have to include the Asia-Pacific,” said Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser.

Such a focus is essential to American interests, analysts say, but still a test for a president who is seeking to govern and run for re-election at once.

The White House hopes the world will see Obama’s trip as a pivot point in American policy, as Secretary of State Hillary Login to read more

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