Obama speaks exclusively with 7 News
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WSVN) -- 7 News sat down for an exclusive interview with the commander-in-chief to talk about topics that are important to South Florida residents.
President Barack Obama will head to Brazil for the first time since he became president, Friday night. Before he departed, 7's own Lynn Martinez spoke with the President at the White House.
Obama's Latin American trip will focus on economic recovery in the US.
According to The White House, the state of Florida produces billions of dollars in exports to Brazil each year. Last year alone, Florida received over $5 billion from Brazil. "Part of what it does is send a message not only to the people of South Florida but the United States that our economic future is tied up with the future of Latin America," Obama said.
President Obama said he hopes his trip to Latin America and Brazil will bring more jobs to South Florida and the US as a whole. "As you mentioned, Florida has benefited from jobs being created as a consequence of sales to countries like Brazil," Obama said, "and for every $1 billion in sales that we make, we create 5,000 jobs here in the United States."
The President also addressed concerns with the housing market in Florida. He said that the Loan Modification Program, which was enacted to help those who lost their homes and jobs, is in fact helping homeowners in South Florida. However, the need far exceeds resources available for the program. Obama said, "The problem is obviously that the resources that we have available to help are not as great as the need, and we'd love to be able to do even more, but the housing market across the country was so big, it came down so fast during the economic crisis during the recession, that we're putting a lot of gravel in a hole that's bigger than the amount of gravel that we have."
The White House believes progress is necessary for Florida. Obama disagreed with Governor Rick Scott's decision to decline federal funding for a high-speed rail system. "He said he was concerned that Florida taxpayers would be stuck with the bill if it didn't work out. What are your thoughts on that?" Martinez asked the President.
"Frankly, I think the governor was wrong on this," Obama replied, "and that's not just my opinion. That's the opinion of folks in Tampa and Orlando, including a lot of Republicans up there."
During the exclusive interview, the president talked about his love for Miami. "What I love about Miami is just the diversity of Miami," he said. "The fact that you've got people from all over the world who converged on this place. They add their own flavor to it."
Martinez made a proposition to the President for when he comes to Miami to deliver the commencement address at Miami-Dade College in April. "So when you come next month to speak to those graduating students, you'll have to also stop by my house because I make a mean lemon martini," said Martinez.
"You are a bartender?" the President asked.
Martinez responded, "I can only make one drink."
"Only one drink?"
"The lemon martinis are really good."
"Well, I'm going to have to try it out, although I've got to tell you, I'll probably have to do it after the speech as opposed to before. It sounds like it might be a little strong," Obama laughed.
President Obama will be in Brazil for two days; he will then travel to El Salvador and next head to Chile.
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