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Obama pushes business bill as an all-American goal

EDISON, N.J. - President Barack Obama yesterday cast his latest economic pitch as a matter of patriotism, urging the Senate to ditch its partisan mode at least long enough to pass a package of tax cuts and loan relief for small businesses. "This is as American as apple pie," the president said.

On his way to his own political activity - two high-dollar fundraisers for Democrats - Obama sought his own classic American setting. He ate a meat-stacked sandwich and then spoke at the Tastee Sub Shop, a tiny one-story building meant to serve as the essence of the American small business.

In Washington, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was hoping to schedule a Senate vote on the small-business bill for last evening, though he would need Republican support for a vote that soon. Republican leaders said they would like the opportunity to offer amendments to the measure.

"Surely, Democrats and Republicans ought to be able to agree on this bill," Obama said despite the consistent lack of any such consensus on Capitol Hill. Obama said he told Republican leaders at the White House a day earlier that key elements of the bill are ones that the GOP has supported for years.

"Helping small businesses, cutting taxes, making credit available," Obama said from a presidential lectern that had been brought into the restaurant. "This is as American as apple pie. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. They are central to our identity as a nation. They are going to lead this recovery."

The bill in question is designed to help small businesses get the capital they need to buy equipment, hire workers and expand their operations. Obama took the opportunity to recite the stories of local business owners and tout his efforts to help them before acknowledging that more government help is needed.

The business message was but a stop on Obama's broader mission yesterday. He was stepping up his fundraising efforts as the midterm elections draw closer.

In Manhattan, Obama was to tape an interview on the daytime talk show "The View" that will air today. And then he was attending fundraisers for the Democratic National Committee.

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