KOKOMO, Ind. —President Obama used a visit to a revitalized Chrysler transmission plant here Tuesday to tout the success of his auto industry bailout, saying that all three major U.S. automakers are profitable and growing because his administration made "the right decision" to back them.
"There were those who were prepared to give up on Kokomo and our auto industry," Obama told workers at the Indiana plant, where he said hiring is increasing and Chrysler is investing more than $1.1 billion to boost production. "There were those who said it was going to be too difficult or that it was bad politics or it was throwing good money after bad."
Although those voices were "pretty loud," he said, "we made the decision to stand behind the auto industry. . . . We made the decision to stand with you because we had confidence in the American worker more than anything. And today we know that was the right decision."
Obama said each of the Big Three automakers — General Motors, Ford and Chrysler — has gained market share compared to foreign counterparts for the first time in more than a decade.
"We're coming back. We're on the move. All three American companies are profitable, and they are growing," Obama said to applause. "So here's the lesson: Don't bet against America. Don't bet against the American auto industry. Don't bet against American ingenuity. Don't bet against the American worker. Do not bet against us."
In some ways, the president's appearance in this Midwestern town known as the "city of firsts," represented a kickoff of the 2012 race for the White House.
The visit by Obama and Vice President Joe Biden was billed by the administration as part of its "White House to Main Street" effort to highlight economic progress and publicize the back-from-the-brink success of the automobile industry.