Make us your home page
Instagram

Obama, touring Chrysler plant in Indiana, sees hope for auto industry

KOKOMO, Ind. — President Barack Obama promoted the revival of the U.S. auto industry Tuesday, taking his pitch to the heart of the Rust Belt, where a bruising economy has taken its toll on Democrats.

Obama and Vice President Joe Biden toured a rebounding Chrysler transmission plant in this hard-hit industrial city, holding it up as a symbol of the "hope and confidence" of a better economy, even while millions are still unemployed and hurting.

"We're coming back," Obama said. "We're on the move."

Kokomo got a big boost from Chrysler on Tuesday when the automaker announced it plans to pump $843 million more into three factories to build a new front-wheel-drive transmission.

Chrysler said the investment will pay for equipment to modernize the two Kokomo transmission factories and a casting plant. It will extend the life of the plants and help retain nearly 2,250 jobs, equipping the plants to build a new front-wheel-drive transmission for unspecified future vehicles, the company said.

General Motors, meanwhile, will bring back nearly 200 laid-off workers at an engine plant in Flint, Mich., according to a person familiar with GM's plans.

Declared one of "America's fastest-dying towns" by Forbes magazine in 2008, Kokomo hit bottom in June 2009 when unemployment in the medium-sized city in north-central Indiana reached 20.4 percent. The city's unemployment rate is still higher than the national average, but it had dropped by nearly 8 percentage points to 12.7 percent in September.

The visit represented the White House's new focus on showcasing the results behind the Obama administration's politically contentious economic stimulus and the bailouts of the two U.S. automakers.

"We made the decision to stand with you because we had confidence in the American workers, and today we know that was the right decision," the president said in Kokomo.

For Obama, the visit was also a chance to promote the $800 billion economic stimulus he pushed through Congress in the early days of his presidency.

Obama went out of his way Tuesday to connect with the public, at one point stopping at a small bakery to order pumpkin rolls, apple fritters, cinnamon rolls and doughnuts.

In his speech at the Chrysler plant, Obama said that in his "obsessive focus on policy, I neglected some things that matter a lot to people."

Among them, he said, "was getting out of Washington and spending more time shaping public opinion and being in a conversation with the American people about why I was making the choices I was making."

Despite signs of recovery, the economy is growing too slowly to reduce the nation's unemployment rate, which stands stubbornly at 9.6 percent, and Obama and his fellow Democrats felt the repercussions in this month's midterm elections.

In Indiana, Democrats lost a Senate seat and two House seats and were driven into the minority in the state Legislature.

Democrats also suffered major losses in Ohio, Michigan and Illinois — all states that Obama carried in his 2008 presidential run.

.fast facts

GM payback

The Treasury Department said it has received $11.7 billion from the sale of 358.5 million shares of General Motors stock. Treasury officials announced that the net proceeds from the GM stock sold last week were delivered Tuesday. They said the government could receive an additional $1.8 billion, assuming the underwriters exercise options to purchase an additional 53.8 million shares of GM common stock within 30 days of the initial stock offering. The government put $49.5 billion into GM as part of its bailout of the giant automaker.

Obama, touring Chrysler plant in Indiana, sees hope for auto industry 11/23/10 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 1:23pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. New stores coming to Tyrone Square Mall, like Bath & Body Works

    Retail

    Tyrone Square Mall will welcome a half dozen new stores, like Bath & Body Works and MidiCi's The Neapolitan Pizza Company, this summer.

  2. Target Corp. reaches $18.5 million settlement with 47 states over data breach

    Retail

    Target Corp. has agreed to pay Florida $928,963 out of a newly-announced $18.5 million settlement over a huge data breach that occurred in late 2013.

    Forty-seven states and the District of Columbia have reached an $18.5 million settlement with Target Corp. to resolve the states' probe into the discounter's massive pre-Christmas data breach in 2013. 
[Associated Press]
  3. Gov. Rick Scott's family history of alcohol abuse could decide 'liquor wall' bill

    Legislature

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott must decide Wednesday whether to let Walmart and other big-box stores sell liquor, and he says a factor in his decision is the history of alcohol abuse in his family.

    Florida Governor Rick Scott is considering a veto of a bill that would allow Walmart, Target and other big box retail stores to sell liquor. [Andres Leiva | Tampa Bay Times]
  4. Tampa lands Super Bowl in 2021

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Record rainfall in Los Angeles ultimately may end Tampa Bay's drought of hosting the Super Bowl.

    Mike Tomlin celebrates with LaMarr Woodley and Troy Polamalu after the Steelers beat the Cardinals in 


Super Bowl XLIII  on February 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. [Times files (2009)
  5. As St. Petersburg's Jabil Circuit broadens its business, it shrinks its name to Jabil

    Corporate

    St. Petersburg's Fortune 500 company, Jabil Circuit, informally tossed aside the "Circuit" in its name some time ago. That's because circuit board manufacturing, the company's core business for decades, has been squeezed out by a broader business agenda ranging from consumer packaging to supply chain management.

    Jabil Circuit informally dropped "Circuit" from its marketing material and signage, like at its St. Petersburg headquarters, years ago. Now it's official.
[Times file photo]