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President Obama meets with Wal-Mart CEO

By Ben Rooney, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com). -- President Obama was meeting Monday with Mike Duke, the chief executive of Wal-Mart, a White House official said.

The meeting was closed to the press, but the official called it part of Obama's "ongoing outreach" to the U.S. business community.

The goal is to "continue discussing ways to strengthen our economic recovery, spur growth, create jobs, and encourage companies to invest in the United States," the official said in a statement emailed to CNNMoney.com.

Dan Fogleman, a spokesman for Wal-Mart (WMT, Fortune 500), said the world's largest retailer is not planning to make a public comment on the meeting.

Obama has been criticized by some corporate leaders for what they see as an anti-business bias. But the president acknowledged in a speech earlier this month that he needs to improve his relations with business after the midterm Congressional elections resulted in major losses for Democrats.

"As I reflect on what's happened over the last two years, it's one of the things that I think has not been managed by me as well as it needed to be," the president said press conference one day after the Nov.r 2 elections.

Businesses and other outside groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent over $400 million to influence the election, according to the Sunlight Foundation, non-profit watchdog group.

Obama is considering attending a jobs summit hosted by the Chamber, which is expected to take place in early January, sources told CNN.

In his post-election remarks, Obama said he wants to mend bridges more publicly with the business community while seeking policy initiatives that help create jobs. He said he's been doing that "behind the scenes" in meetings between White House officials and corporate executives, but he acknowledged the need to work on the more public relationship.

The apparent charm campaign comes after corporate leaders from a variety of industries have criticized Obama for policies and statements they see as anti-business.

Obama chastised "fat cat" bankers who took large bonuses during the financial crisis, and lashed out at BP during the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

But other executives have expressed frustration with Obama's efforts to eliminate tax breaks, an area where he has recently relented. Businesses have also pushed back against Obama's signature legislative achievements, including health care reform and a sweeping overhaul of the nation's financial system.  To top of page

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