President Barack Obama says he is so confident of the U.S. auto industry’s return to greatness that he is buying an American electric car at the end of his second term.
In a fiery speech to the United Auto Workers (UAW) members on Tuesday, the president said that his decision to bailout General Motors and Chrysler had been a success.
“If we had turned our backs on you; if America had thrown in the towel; GM and Chrysler wouldn’t exist today,” Obama told the crowd. “And you know why I knew this rescue would succeed? It wasn’t because of anything the government did. It wasn’t just because of anything management did. It was because I believed in you. I placed my bet on American workers.”
“Three years later, the American auto industry is back,” he continued. “GM is back on top as the number one automaker in the world, with the highest profits in its 100-year history. … And you’re not just building cars again. You’re building better cars.”
“I know our bet was a good one because I’ve seen the payoff first hand,” Obama insisted. “I’ve seen at GM’s Lordstown plant in Ohio, where workers got their jobs back to build the Chevy Cobalt, and at GM’s Hamtramck plant in Detroit, where I got to get inside a brand-new Chevy Volt fresh off the line.”
At that point, the president detoured from his prepared remarks to explain just how much he liked Chevy’s new electric car.
“Secret Service wouldn’t let me drive it,” he joked. “But I liked sitting in it. It was nice. I bet it drives real good.”
“And five years from now when I’m not president anymore, I’ll buy one and drive it myself!” Obama exclaimed, prompting the enthusiastic audience to chant, “Four more years! Four more years!”
The president’s speech to auto workers comes on the day that Michigan voters are casting their ballots in the Republican presidential primary.
In contrast to Obama’s embrace of the $80 billion auto bailout, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney recently claimed that the current White House resident “gave” the car companies to the UAW.
“My view is this: We have to have industries that get in trouble go through bankruptcies,” Romney explained at a CNN debate last week.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has also recently taken a shot the auto industry’s effort at building more energy efficient models.
At a campaign event in Suwanee, Georgia last week, Gingrich told supporters that he would bring back cheaper gas because “you can’t put a gun rack on a Volt.”
Watch this video from CNN, broadcast Feb. 28, 2012.