Obama Visits Washington D.C. Auto Show

President Obama is hoping to get some political mileage this November in states like Michigan and Ohio from his controversial rescue of the auto industry. While many Republicans, including Mitt Romney, were skeptical at the time, the president notes that U.S. carmakers are now profitable and hiring again.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Chrysler vehicles were among the shiny, new cars on display at the Washington Auto Show, here in Washington, D.C. President Obama dropped by the show, yesterday, presumably in hopes that some of that shine will rub off on him.

NPR's Scott Horsley reports.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: President Obama took the wheel of a Dodge muscle car he wishes he'd had in high school, admired the head-room of a Chevy Malibu, and gushed over Ford's new plug-in hybrid that can go 20 miles before it needs a drop of gasoline.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: If you live in the city, you never have to fill up with this right here.

HORSLEY: Mr. Obama is hoping to get some political mileage this November in states like Michigan and Ohio from his controversial rescue of the auto industry.

While many Republicans, including Mitt Romney, were skeptical at the time, the president notes U.S. carmakers are now profitable and hiring again.

OBAMA: It's good to remember the fact that there were some folks who were willing to let this industry die. Because of folks coming together, we are now back in a place where we can compete with any car company in the world.

HORSLEY: Some Midwestern lawmakers are warning, though, that the auto parts business is still in danger.

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow blames unfair competition from parts makers in China.

SENATOR DEBBIE STABENOW: The bully on the block continues to take our lunch money and it's time to stop that. You want to compete with us? Come on. We're happy to have the competition. But it's got to be fair.

HORSLEY: Stabenow and other Midwestern Democrats are urging the White House to get tougher with China, as Mr. Obama promised in last week's State of the Union address.

Scott Horsley, NPR News, the White House.

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