Tom Korologos: GOP Lobbyist and and#8220;101st Senatorand#8221;

NEW YORK *#8211; Born to Greek immigrant parents in Utah, Tom C. Korologos has often been called the country*#8217;s *#8220;101st senator.*#8221; He is considered a very influential Republican lobbyist who has served as an advisor to several Presidents over the years, and high-level Executive Branch nominees regularly seek his counsel.

*#8220;Going through a confirmation is kind of an arcane art. I*#8217;ve had a few nominees call me and ask me for help in the confirmation process *#8211; a couple of guys at the Justice Department, and another 2-3 at the State Department that needed help,*#8221; Mr. Korologos told the National Herald, citing an undersecretary and associate attorney general who recently asked for his advice.

He instructs nominees on how to behave and what to say, as well as what to avoid saying or doing.

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A registered lobbyist, Mr. Korologos served as senior counselor to Ambassador L. Paul Bremer, administrator for the Office of Coalition Provisional Authority, in Baghdad from May to December of 2003. He was responsible for all the CPA*#8217;s Congressional affairs, and helped the Defense Department crunch numbers and prepare President George W. Bush*#8217;s first supplemental Iraq reconstruction budget passed for the war effort, and played a key role in getting it passed.

Before going to Iraq, Mr. Korologos was co-founder and served as chairman of Timmons *amp; Co., an important Washington consulting firm, from 1975 to 2003.

*#8220;I moved to Washington in 1962, and except for a couple of stints *#8211; a year in Iraq and three years in Belgium *#8211; I*#8217;ve been here ever since,*#8221; he said.

He resigned from the Timmons firm when he went to Baghdad. A few months after he returned from Iraq, he was asked to serve as United States Ambassador to Belgium (July 2004 to February 2006).

*#8220;The White House and the Pentagon called me and said, *#8216;Pack your bags. We need you in Iraq.*#8217; And I said, *#8216;Yes, sir.*#8217; I*#8217;m the son of Greek immigrants, and I*#8217;ll do anything my country asks me to do. So off I went, and when I came back, the President thanked me for doing a good job, and said he wanted to make me an ambassador. So he asked me where I wanted to go, and I said, *#8216;Anywhere that doesn*#8217;t end in stan.*#8217; And off we went to Belgium,*#8221; he said.

After he came back from Belgium, Mr. Korologos signed on with DLA Piper, a major international law firm, as a strategic advisor to its clients *#8211; many of them international corporations. *#8220;I don*#8217;t take foreign governments,*#8221; he said. *#8220;That*#8217;s a different kettle of fish.*#8221; He is still lobbying on behalf of Bush Administration, trying to help it get its initiatives pushed through Congress.

Mr. Korologos, now 75, spoke Greek before he could speak English. He was born to Chris T. and Irene M. (Kolendrianos) Korologos, both of whom were originally from the Peloponnese. His father owned and operated a bar in Salt Lake City.

Mr. Korologos started out as a sports writer with the New York Herald Tribune, the Long Island Press, the Salt Lake Tribune and the Associated Press. He was also an officer in the U.S. Air Force from 1956 to 1957, earning a bachelor*#8217;s degree from the University of Utah and a master*#8217;s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 1958, where he received Grantland Rice and Pulitzer Fellowships.

His Washington experience is lengthy and diverse. He worked for U.S. Senator Wallace F. Bennett of Utah (father of current Senator Robert Bennett) from 1962 to 1971, serving as Mr. Bennett*#8217;s press secretary and chief of staff. He then served as a deputy assistant of legislative affairs to Presidents Nixon and Ford, and has worked closely with President Bush.

He was also a senior advisor to Senator Bob Dole of Kansas during Mr. Dole*#8217;s Presidential bid in 1996; served in the Bush-Cheney transition in 2000; managed the confirmation of Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense, as well as other nominees appointed by President Bush; and was a longtime member of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy.

Mr. Korologos was married to Joy G. Korologos. They were married in civil court, and had three children *#8211; Paula Cale (the actress), Ann and Philip, all of whom grew up in the Mormon tradition *#8211; and five grandchildren. Joy Korologos died from melanoma in 1997. Mr. Korologos has since re-married. Ann McLaughlin, Secretary of Labor in the Reagan Administration, is his second wife. They were married at Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Washington, D.C.

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CHOOSING THE GOP AND GROWING UP GREEK IN UTAH

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Asked why he chose to be a Republican, Mr. Korologos said the traditional GOP platform resonated with him.

*#8220;We*#8217;re self-reliant, and I*#8217;m conservative. I feel government is too big, and in our pockets too often. When I was a freshman in college, I remember somebody asking what we think of federal aid for education, and I blurted out, *#8216;Federal aid means federal control. The hell with it. I want the state and school district to control my school.*#8217; I didn*#8217;t give it one second of thought,*#8221; he said.

*#8220;Most Greeks were Democrats back then; most immigrants were. They thought Franklin Roosevelt saved Greece from Hitler and the war, and they loved Truman because the Truman plan helped Greece stay out of the Russian orbit. My dad was a Democrat, too, but he became a Republican when they put (Spiro T.) Agnew on the Nixon ticket,*#8221; he added.

Asked what he recalls about his experiences as a Greek American growing up in Utah, and how he managed to climb the ladder of the Republican establishment, Mr. Korologos said he faced and eventually overcame social challenges in a predominantly Mormon environment, and attributed his rise to the upper echelons of the GOP to luck.

*#8220;My dad owned a bar in Salt Lake, and Salt Lake is no place to own a bar. We were considered *#8216;dirty Greeks,*#8217; and we Greeks hung around together. I was an altar boy. I sang in the church choir. I went to West High, which was on the other side of the tracks. With a name like Korologos growing up in Salt Lake City with all the Mormons, I had to be a little better than the other guy because I felt a certain stigma *#8211; that I wasn*#8217;t part of the mainstream,*#8221; he said.

*#8220;It didn*#8217;t bother me, though. I became a belligerent ally of the Mormons. My first wife was a Mormon. I don*#8217;t care what you are or what religion you practice, do your own thing and leave me alone. I learned a lot about another culture growing up in Salt Lake among a majority group that wasn*#8217;t of our kind. But the Mormons were also very good to the Greeks, so I didn*#8217;t have any trouble growing up,*#8221; he said.

*#8220;Αnd with the Republican Party, there was a lot of luck involved. I guess I had the type of personality that made it work for me on Capitol Hill. I was press secretary for a senator, and then I became his chief of staff. And then I went to the White House for five years. I had the gift of gab. I was a good salesman. As a lobbyist, I can sell issues like some guys sell cars. And with the Greek culture and my Greek background, I had to be better than the other guy. But hard work never hurt anybody. I got there before anybody else did, and I had a saying: Be the first one at a meeting. It builds up confidence,*#8221; he added.

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JOURNALISTIC EXPERIENCE CAME IN HANDY

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His journalistic experience came in handy because it enhanced his knowledge and ability to discuss issues, Mr. Korologos explained, stressing that his background in sports writing was particularly valuable because it helped him relate to people on a basic human level.

*#8220;Working as a sports writer was even better because we have the freedom to do more than a dull political writer does. I had the freedom to expand and pontificate. I used to tell my kids, *#8216;I don*#8217;t care if you become a doctor or a lawyer or an Indian chief. If you can write, you*#8217;ve got a leg up on everybody else.*#8217; When you start writing, you*#8217;ve got to do your own digging and research, and that*#8217;s what helped me develop my skills and abilities,*#8221; he said.

Mr. Korologos also said the Greek American community needs more journalists, but cited modest salaries and a struggling industry as deterrents.

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*#8220;Greeks have entered into every type of profession and career there is in America, and we definitely need more journalists, but one of the problems with journalism is the pay scale. It*#8217;s not that red-hot. The newspaper industry has been seeing some hard times lately. I went to a newspaper editors*#8217; convention recently, and in the halls, you could hear them lamenting the lack of circulation and the changes brought about by the Internet. It*#8217;s all about how many hits you got last month, instead of how many newspapers you managed to sell,*#8221; he said.

*#8220;But the reason I went into journalism was because I was a sports writer. I was a copy boy for the Salt Lake Tribune, and from there, it evolved to ski editor, and I covered the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley, California. I went to Columbia, and worked for the New York Herald-Tribune. I was let go before it folded. The damn union killed the best paper in New York. I was on the sports desk. The editor called me in and said, *#8216;Hey Tom, we love your work, and doggone it, I don*#8217;t want to do it, but you*#8217;re the youngest guy here, so the end of the month will have to be your last day.*#8217; I said, *#8216;Okay, fine. I*#8217;ve got to go because I*#8217;ve got a deadline to meet.*#8217; I had to help put the paper out that night. I was kind of relieved, though, because I was still in school at the time, and then I was working till 3 o*#8217;clock in the morning putting out the sports pages for the Herald-Tribune,*#8221; he added.

Mr. Korologos eventually took a job with the Evans Advertising firm, which was handling Senator Bennett*#8217;s campaign, *#8220;so I got involved with that, and the next thing you know, he offered me a job to come to Washington as his press secretary,*#8221; he said.

*#8220;I was the first non-Mormon he hired. He realized they had to diversify because there were a lot of other groups in Utah that needed help besides the Mormons. So I went into see him. It was the Friday after Thanksgiving in 1962. And I walked through his door, and he said, *#8216;Well, beware of Greeks bearing gifts,*#8217; and I said, *#8216;No. The question is, what does a Grecian earn (a play on John Keats*#8217; famous poem, Ode to a Grecian Urn)?*#8217; We both had a good laugh, and I started working for him,*#8221; he added.

Mr. Korologos eventually went onto become one of the Nixon Administration*#8217;s most trusted advisors on the U.S. Senate, so much so that President Ford urged him to continue serving in the same capacity after Mr. Nixon resigned.

*#8220;After Ford took office, it was time for him to get his own people in there. But the day Ford took office, which was the day Nixon left, he told me, *#8216;Look, I*#8217;m surrounded by House people. You*#8217;re the only Senate guy around here. Don*#8217;t you let anyone talk you into leaving. I need you to stay.*#8217; Well all those Nixon guys were out of a job, and I was the first guy Ford hired. It was right after he gave his *#8216;Long National Nightmare*#8217; speech.*#8217; We went into Red Room to greet senators. And he turned to me and said, *#8216;I want you to stay with me. I*#8217;ve got big Senate problems. Don*#8217;t leave.*#8217; So I stayed for a few months, and I figured that was long enough. And then Bill Timmons and I started our company,*#8221; he said.

President Ford was not happy with Mr. Korologos*#8217; decision to move on: *#8220;It is not only with the deepest regret, but also with a personal sense of loss that I accept your resignation as Deputy Assistant to the President, effective December 31, 1974, as you requested,*#8221; he wrote to Mr. Korologos in a letter dated December 18, 1974.

One of the things Mr. Korologos did while serving under President Nixon was to initiate the annual celebration of Greek Independence Day at the White House.

*#8220;I think I started the first of those events for March 25th at the White House, with everybody coming down with the Archbishop. I started doing it with Nixon. We took the AHEPA guys in, and pretty soon, Ford and Reagan were doing it, too. I didn*#8217;t go to any with Carter. I may have gone to one with Clinton. But a small event just grew and prospered, and became the big event it is now. The last one they had was remarkable (see March 29 edition). I had never seen one that big,*#8221; he said.

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HELLENIC ISSUES

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As far as the Bush Administration*#8217;s lack of sensitivity to Hellenic issues is concerned, Mr. Korologos was critical of the Greek approach. There are larger concerns at stake, he said, and he measures how much he himself ought to weigh in, adding that it*#8217;s all about the art of making a good deal.

*#8220;Each issue has to be taken in its own little context. On Cyprus, my view is, if the Greek side had taken the deal five deals ago, they*#8217;d sure be a hell of a lot better off than they are today. Every time they put together a new deal, it*#8217;s worse than the previous one. As for Macedonia, America is looking for NATO allies, and the name issue is *#8211; well, knowing the Greek psyche and level of emotion, people do get hysterical about it *#8211; but for Heaven*#8217;s sake. A name? Yes, it*#8217;s an emotional issue, but they offered many different names, and the Greeks refused to take them,*#8221; he said.

But the Greeks consistently and repeatedly present their case and offer sound arguments, so why do those arguments continue to fall on deaf ears, Mr. Korologos was asked? Why does U.S. foreign policy remain so favorable to Turkey?

*#8220;Turkey is a valuable NATO ally, and the belly of the beast. The Cyprus problem has been a contentious issue, of course, and it begs for a decision, but Greece is for Turkey getting into the E.U., and we*#8217;re all supporting that,*#8221; he said.

*#8220;My view on deals is *#8211; and I*#8217;ve been a lobbyist all my life, as well as an ambassador, where all you do is continue your lobbying efforts, only this time your client is your government *#8211; when you go into a meeting, and you try to cut a deal, you*#8217;ve got to leave the room with everybody thinking they won. You shouldn*#8217;t leave a meeting with anyone feeling like he lost. You go into a meeting, and you say, *#8216;Here*#8217;s what you are getting out of this,*#8217; not with *#8216;Here*#8217;s what you*#8217;re losing.*#8217; That*#8217;s called the Belgian compromise. The Belgians were notorious for that. There wasn*#8217;t a dispute they couldn*#8217;t solve. Where you get into trouble is on a yes or no issue, and the Macedonia name dispute is a perfect example. But not everyone is standing firm on an absolute yes or no. Some are standing in the middle. Let*#8217;s get a thesaurus out, and hammer it out,*#8221; he added.

Asked whether he would take the opportunity to speak to Presidents about Hellenic issues and suggest reasons for modifying U.S. policies with respect thereto, Mr. Korologos said such discussions are best taken up with State Department officials and foreign ambassadors, adding that he has made efforts to keep the plight of the Ecumenical Patriarchate at the fore, and has gotten in plenty of heated discussions with Turkish officials over the years.

*#8220;You don*#8217;t go to a President and say that. You talk to State Department guys and others. They know where I*#8217;m coming from. I*#8217;m an American, born and raised in Utah. I*#8217;m an American citizen. Some people suggested I should go to Greece to be an ambassador. I don*#8217;t want to go to Greece and get in a fight with the damn Greeks, who are volatile and emotional, and then become ineffectual because they think I forgot my heritage. I haven*#8217;t forgotten my heritage. I*#8217;m just American,*#8221; he said.

*#8220;I*#8217;m not downgrading the Greeks. They have their policies, and so do we. When I was in Belgium, Greeks used to call me all the time to help with the European Union or NATO. One of my best friends over there was Archbishop in Paris, Metropolitan Emmanuel, the Patriarch*#8217;s guy in the E.U., and we used to talk all the time. But every once in a while, I had to remind him I was an ambassador from America, not from Greece,*#8221; he said.

*#8220;Now having said that, the Patriarch came to my residence in Brussels. He blessed the house, and we had a meeting on E.U. issues and the Patriarchate in Istanbul. I used to talk to the State Department all the time about that. I used to raise hell with them. The Turkish ambassador was a friend of mine, but behind closed doors, I used to tell him, *#8216;What the hell are you guys doing? What*#8217;s the matter with you?*#8217; Ambassadors being ambassadors, you go to the back room and talk that way, but in a public or social setting, you*#8217;ve got to be a little more circumspect,*#8221; he added.

Asked what he thought about the U.S. decision to back the ethnic Albanian declaration of independence for Kosovo, Mr. Korologos said he was not familiar enough with the issue to offer extensive comment.

*#8220;I don*#8217;t know the short answer to that. American policy in the Balkans was about stability and giving the Albanians some independence. I didn*#8217;t get involved much with that, except when I was in Iraq. I noticed there was a cult that followed crises around the world *#8211; most of them seem to work for the United Nations *#8211; and I had a lot of talks with them. They were like people following golf tours, except they were following the crisis tour, and there they were in Iraq talking about Kosovo. I commended them, of course. It was amazing to me that they would go to such lengths for peacekeeping efforts. But I had no expertise or competence to discuss Kosovo. I just hope the darn thing goes away,*#8221; he said.

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THE WAR IN IRAQ

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As far as Bush Administration*#8217;s decision to invade Iraq is concerned, Mr. Korologos said

he thinks it was the correct action, but said he felt the Administration could have done a better job presenting its case to the American people, most of whom now favor drastically reducing or withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq altogether.

*#8220;One of the problems with this Administration is that they haven*#8217;t told their story right. Nobody can be Ronald Reagan, but from the beginning, they didn*#8217;t use his formula of *#8216;say it, say it, say it and then say it again.*#8217; Regarding many of the foreign policy decisions and events that have occurred, they haven*#8217;t been policy failures, but they have been a communications failure. It hasn*#8217;t been handled with the level of efficiency that it could have been handled.

*#8220;Most foreign policy decisions and events *#8211; and this President is no different than any other *#8211; are not of his doing. Since its beginnings, America has run on ambition, morality and power, and what you end up having is outside events *#8211; whether its Russians and Berlin Walls or Korea and Vietnam *#8211; to which America responds because that*#8217;s what Americans do.

*#8220;When I was ambassador to Belgium, I used to remind the Belgians every day that we bailed them out of World War I, and then we fed them, remembering Herbert Hoover*#8217;s programs and the commission for the relief of Belgium. And then we bailed them out of World War II, and we fed them again through the Marshall Plan. Then we started NATO, and we put most of the financing into NATO to keep the Russians at bay.

*#8220;When the Tsunami disaster struck in December 2004, who were the first ones there with a bunch of aircraft carriers and C-130*#8217;s bringing in food? Americans. One of the things the Belgians used to ask to me all the time was, how come our defense budget is 3-4 percent of our GNP, while our humanitarian budget is less than 2 percent? And I used to say, 1.3 percent of what? A trillion dollar economy? 1.3 percent of that ain*#8217;t too shabby. How many aircraft carriers did Belgium send to help with tsunami relief and other disasters that happened?

*#8220;Take Iraq. Iraq was a reaction to 3,000 dead Americans in one day. When I called it a war on terror, they used to tell me, *#8216;That*#8217;s not a war. When the Germans occupied Europe, that was a war.*#8217; And I told them, *#8216;You can say whatever you want, but I happen to know people that died on September 11th, and to me, that*#8217;s a war.*#8217; The President reacted by going into Afghanistan, and by going into Iraq, where he had ample reason to go.

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*#8220;Again, my beef with this Administration is that they didn*#8217;t get their side of the story across effectively enough. In this day and age of screaming cable television every night, and the screaming bias of most of those news guys that are covering things, no wonder it has taken a toll on the President*#8217;s popularity,*#8221; he said.

In the face of so many arguments that one has nothing to do with the other, Mr. Korologos was asked, what is the logical connection between the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the war in Iraq? What do people need to understand about the connection between the war in Iraq and the war on terror, if there is any?

*#8220;My answer to that is, September 11th occurred before Iraq. The terrorist attacks came first. And when Saddam Hussein was sitting there paying terrorists $25,000 to go blow themselves up in Israel, and to go blow themselves up all around the world, and harboring terrorists, go ask those 25 million Iraqis how bad it was in the old days when he had weapons of mass destruction and gassed his own people.

*#8220;Look what he did to Kuwait in 1991. He was building nukes. He stiffed U.N. investigators who were trying to find out of if he still had any. Then when British, American and Israeli intelligence and the U.N. were all convinced he had some, there were about 15 resolutions passed, and he wouldn*#8217;t let anybody in to go look at them. So this guy had to be taken care of. You don*#8217;t think those crazies that come and bomb our buildings and crash airplanes into them wouldn*#8217;t use a nuke if they had one? The connection is Iraq and Afghanistan being a haven for terrorists,*#8221; he said.

While it can be argued that Islamic extremists would use weapons of mass destruction against the West given the opportunity, Mr. Korologos was asked, has the war in Iraq actually helped to prevent or stem the possibility of further attacks on American soil since 2001?

*#8220;Oh, how do you know? My short answer is, probably. The longer answer is, it*#8217;s indeed hard to predict. But I don*#8217;t operate on hypotheses. That Iraq was a training ground for terrorists was a distinct possibility. The borders were porous. They could go in and out of Syria anytime they wanted. Iraq and Iran *#8211; that whole area was easy to get in and out of. Sure there were possibilities they could launch terrorist attacks against us from there. And I must give credit to American law enforcement. There have been stoppages of other attacks that could have occurred on our soil if not for our law enforcement agencies,*#8221; he said.

What about the war itself? Senator John McCain of Arizona, the 2008 Republican Presidential Nominee, maintains a long-term U.S. presence in Iraq is necessary, but the war is costing U.S. taxpayers an awful lot of money. Will there be a U.S. presence in Iraq for many years to come, Mr. Korologos was asked, or will America eventually pull out?

The prospect of democracy in the Middle East is making the whole region uneasy at the moment, he said, but it will ultimately prevail and help stabilize the region, and U.S. military power is a necessary ingredient to help make a greater degree of democracy in the Middle East a reality.

*#8220;The goal was to get in and get out. That was the goal in Korea and Germany. But we*#8217;re still in Korea, and we still have a presence in Germany. America likes to wield its power. And to the point where it could be a calming influence, yes, American influence can and should be, and will be, seen as a stabilizing force in the Middle East, as long as they*#8217;re not fighting. They*#8217;re not fighting in Korea or Germany, anymore. So as long as there*#8217;s an American presence around, and they*#8217;re not fighting, I don*#8217;t see anything wrong with that.

*#8220;The war has been costly because, internally, the different factions have been fighting for 5,000 years. The Shiites, the Sunnis and the Kurds have a tendency to want to grab for power. Those warlords see us withdrawing at some point, so they*#8217;re establishing their turf. It kind of reminds me of the mob/Mafioso mentality: *#8216;You take the south side, and we*#8217;ll take the north side.*#8217; That*#8217;s what*#8217;s going on now. Meanwhile, guys are shooting at each other. I used to take members of Congress to mass graves all over Iraq. One grave had 6,000 dead buried in it. Many of them were shot in the head. Many were buried alive. The Ba*#8217;athists were the perpetrators.

*#8220;Saddam was in power for 25-30 years. Hitler was in power for ten. Saddam terrorized that country. He plundered it, and built 32 palaces. The infrastructure was absolutely gone. He had stolen all the money and used it for himself. He had a 500,000-man army. That*#8217;s bigger than the U.S. Army. He had 12,000 generals. He figured with that many, they couldn*#8217;t commit a coup against him. Here was a guy who let military appropriations run amok, and was ready to use them on somebody, and the whole Middle East was in turmoil at the time.

*#8220;For years we opted for cheap oil and stability, and we got either. So let*#8217;s try something else. Let*#8217;s go bang some heads and see if we can bring some people together. And don*#8217;t you think those Syrians, and those Yemenis and those Saudis and that whole area, and those mullahs, are sitting there saying, *#8216;Oh my God. A democracy right next door?*#8217; Give me a break. Some of those people are sitting there saying, *#8216;How come those guys over in Iraq can vote, while we*#8217;re sitting here with all these monarchs and dictators telling us what to do?*#8217;

A growing democracy in Iraq is freaking them out a little bit. I*#8217;m not saying it*#8217;s going to happen this month or this year. But it*#8217;s going to take a long-term military presence to calm the nerves down and bring a sense of stability into the region,*#8221; he said.

But can the cultural mindset of Muslims in the Middle East lend itself to secular Western values and democratic principles, Mr. Korologos was asked, and doesn*#8217;t the cultural clash or divide ultimately prevent a Western-style democracy from evolving in a healthy manner?

Iraq may not ever develop a democracy the way the West understands it, he said, but it can become a more democratic society over time, and economic stability is also an important factor in the effort.

*#8220;There*#8217;s no question about cultural differences, but maybe it*#8217;s not going to be a Western-style democracy. Maybe it*#8217;s going to take on another form where the people in that region all have a say. All we*#8217;re interested in are a few human rights *#8211; don*#8217;t pounce on your neighbors, and leave Israel alone. That*#8217;s all we*#8217;re asking for. And in the end, with that sense of stability, democracy could spread. That was the President*#8217;s whole peace initiative in the Middle East.

*#8220;It doesn*#8217;t happen through military efforts alone, of course. The other thing you need to do is bring economic stability into the country. Not all Muslims are jihadists. Most of them want to be left alone to do their own thing. You*#8217;ve got to build some incentives. You*#8217;ve got to make some private sector loans available so a guy can go buy a bike shop or a carpenter store and set up his own business; to help people get away from the realm of poverty. Sixty percent of the population is 25 years old or younger. They need jobs. It*#8217;s not all about big manufacturing plants. It*#8217;s also about fostering a climate hospitable enough for small businesses,*#8221; he said.