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Obama: 'You have proved the naysayers wrong'

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Obama: 'You have proved the naysayers wrong'



Big cheers for jobs

12:36 p.m. | The biggest applause line so far came when Obama said Chrysler’s Sterling Heights plant, scheduled for closure, will stay open and add another shift.

“When a plant thrives, that doesn’t just affect the new workers, it affects the entire community,” Obama said, adding he talked to a worker on the Chrysler line, who thanked him for the federal help.

“I need to get out of the house,” Obama said the worker told him. “I told him I know your wife really felt that way.”

Obama speaks to crowd

12:26 p.m. | “Hello, Detroit. It’s good to be back,” said President Barack Obama, dressed in shirt sleeves and a blue and white tie, after being introduced by a woman named Lina who had been unemployed for two years before getting a job at the Chrysler plant in May in the customer satisfaction audit department.

He told the crowd that the first new car he bought was a Grand Cherokee.

“Up until that point, I’d had some old beat up, used cars. They were not state of the art,” he said. “I remember walking into that showroom, buying that car, having the new car smell and everything worked. I wasn’t used to that.”

Obama introduced the dignitaries at the plant – U.S. Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne, who got the biggest burst of applause. Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who met Obama at the airport, didn’t come to the plant because she was attending a funeral.

Obama tours Chrysler plant

12:25 p.m. | Obama's tour concentrated on the body shop where robots weld together the floor pan, body panels and roof. Later in an area where workers add certain fasteners and check the welds he and plant manager Pat Walsh. Obama stopped at about a half dozen work stations to talk with employees who showed them what they do.

Behind Obama and Walsh were General Holiefield, vice president of the UAW's Chrysler department, Cynthia Holland, president of UAW Local 7, and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne.

Passing the time

11:56 a.m. | Perhaps a bit restless after waiting for Obama since 10 a.m., the workers at the Chrysler plant began an impromptu wave around the plant floor, erupting in cheers each time it made a complete round. The President is expected shortly.

Hoekstra: Obama visit a ploy

11:40 a.m. | Republicans weren't going to let Obama's visit go without a few shots of their own.

“President Obama’s visit to Detroit is nothing more than a public relations pit stop," said Republican National Committee spokesman Ryan Tronovitch. "The Michigan auto industry still has a long way to go and President Obama’s tax, borrow and spend policies will only prolong Detroit’s recovery. As the 91,400 out of work since the passage of President Obama’s $862 billion stimulus already know, these policies aren't working.”

And gubernatorial candidate U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Holland, said the visit was a crass political ploy.

“Michigan is suffering. Our unemployment rate is at an unacceptable level, businesses are closing and families are being forced to leave the state," he said. "The Democrats are running scared this year and President Obama has become the most divisive president in our history in his attempts to keep his party in power. His stops in Michigan twice before our primary elections are no coincidence. Despite the president’s efforts to stifle our message of lower taxes and less spending, I will keep fighting for the people of Michigan."

Plant anticipates visit

11:20 a.m. | The first shift buzzed with anticipation this morning, waiting for President Barack Obama to arrive at Chrysler’s Jefferson Avenue plant in Detroit.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Angel Gomez, 47, a plant worker from Detroit. “We got laid off for a while last summer during the bankruptcy, but now we’ve got a second shift.”

Just after 11 a.m., President Obama climbed down from Air Force One at Detroit Metro Airport, followed by Senators Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

Greeting him at the foot of the stairway was Gov. Granholm, Mayor Bing, and Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick. After a brief exchange of pleasantries, the President got into his extended body Cadillac Secret Service car and on his way to I-94 East.

More than 1,000 workers filled the plant floor set up with a podium and the body of a next generation silver Jeep Grand Cherokee to serving as a backdrop for Obama’s speech.

Ron Burak, 47, St. Clair Shores, didn’t think he’d be standing in the plant today if it weren’t for the bailout of Chrysler and General Motors.

“If it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t be working right now,” said Burak, who has worked at Chrysler for 16 years as an electrician. “Some people took buyouts last year when they didn’t think we were going to make it.”

Harold Webster, 54, of Sumpter Township, said he was looking forward to the launch later this year of the plant’s next new product, a spiffy vehicle that he predicted might even outsell the Grand Cherokee.

“We don’t even know what the name of it is yet,” said Webster, who has worked on the assembly line since 1995.

He appreciated the federal government’s help with the auto companies and said people shouldn’t complain about the help.

“It should have been done. Chrysler went through it before and we paid it all back,” Webster said.



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Obama working to pitch success of auto bailouts to American public

by Zach Bowman (RSS feed) on Jul 30th 2010 at 1:29PM

You don't have to be a pollster to know that for the most part, the American public remains none too happy about the federal government handing over the people's hard-earned tax dollars to pull General Motors and Chrysler out of the fires of insolvency. Despite the fact that both companies have managed to keep their lights on, doors open and paychecks flowing due to their generous federal loans, Joe Plumber still can't stand the thought of paying the price of the two companies' failures. With midterm elections right around the corner, President Obama is in Detroit to attempt to sway that opinion.

The Commander-in-Chief will speak to crowds at Chrysler's Jefferson North plant about the positive side of loaning close to $85 billion to two of our country's largest automakers, including the fact that in 2010, the Big Three have re-hired a total of 55,000 of the 334,000 workers it sent packing a year prior. That may seem like a fraction of the total, but the President is certain to point out that without the loans, that job loss figure would have been much higher.

And then there's the matter of getting the federal government's money back. President Obama is also focusing on sharing his belief that a large majority of the country's money will be returned once GM and Chrysler go public once again.

Interested in keeping tabs on Obama's visit to Motown? The Detroit Free Press has a liveblog that you can follow along with (including live audio) by clicking here.



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