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Obama attempts 'fiscal cliff' coup: winning over business leaders

The business community usually trends Republican – and President Obama didn't do much to woo it in his first term. But he's pushing hard to get CEOs on his side in 'fiscal cliff' talks.

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President Obama walks over to shake hands with business leaders before speaking about the 'fiscal cliff' during an address before the Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers, Wednesday in Washington.

Charles Dharapak/AP

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President Obama is attempting to outflank Republicans by winning over a key and typically right-leaning constituency in the “fiscal cliff” public relations battle: American businesses.

Wednesday morning, Mr. Obama met with some 100 CEOs with the Business Roundtable. That continues a string of meetings since the November election between the president and business leaders – a group with which he did not have the best relationship during his first term, he admitted during the campaign.

In the afternoon, House Republican leadership made its play for the business community, meeting with a half-dozen small business leaders.

But the fact that the president is working so hard for business support is a threat to Republicans.

“In the PR game, the fact that the president is making such overt gestures to the business community strikes at the traditional support on the Republican side,” said Pete Davis of Davis Capital Investment Ideas. “And he’s making some gains.”

Chiefly, the president can count on broad support from business on two issues: the need for higher tax revenues and the need to pass an increase to the federal debt ceiling quickly and easily.

“I've been struck by the number of CEOs that said, 'We're willing to pay slightly higher taxes if it means that we've got the kind of certainty and stability over the long term that allows us to invest and hire with confidence.' So most folks, I think, are on board with a balanced plan,” the president said.

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