Obama Outlines Economic Strategy In Michigan

Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama on Monday was on the campaign trail in Michigan touting his plan to cut taxes for the middle class and invest in the nation's infrastructure. The Great Lakes state is battleground territory for the November election.

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DEBBIE ELLIOTT: This is Debbie Elliot. Senator Barack Obama spent Monday in the key swing state of Michigan. It's also the state with the nation's highest jobless rate. In Flint, a town with double-digit employment, displaced auto worker Jonathan Turbush(ph) led off a discussion on the economy.

Mr. JONATHAN TURBUSH (Auto Worker): I worked at American Axle & Manufacturing for 12 years, and I lost my job due to the poor economy. Now I've found myself back in college.

ELLIOTT: Obama stood in front of GMC Hybrid SUVs as he spoke to workers and students at the Mott Community College. He said Republican John McCain is out of touch with what average Americans are going through.

Senator BARACK OBAMA (Democrat, Illinois; 2008 Democratic Presidential Nominee): You don't have to tell the people of Flint or the people of Michigan that our economy is not in good shape, but you...

(Soundbite of applause)

Senator OBAMA: But you do need to tell John McCain.

(Soundbite of applause)

Senator OBAMA: Because just a few weeks ago, John McCain said that the economy was fundamentally sound.

ELLIOTT: Obama outlined his plan to cut taxes for the middle class, provide college tuition breaks for community service, and invest in the nation's infrastructure. The message hit home with Mike Fikes(ph).

Mr. MIKE FIKES (Michigan Construction Laborers Union): Quite frankly, if you actually work for a living, I don't see how you could support anybody but Barack Obama.

ELLIOTT: Fikes is with the Michigan Construction Laborers Union. He says something has to change here.

Mr. FIKES: I mean, there has been a steady loss of jobs in Michigan, good paying jobs that provide some form of health care and provide some decent ability to retire with some dignity.

ELLIOTT: Later at a town hall meeting in Farmington Hills, a Detroit suburb, Obama challenged the McCain campaign's latest TV ad which cast McCain and running mate Sarah Palin as agents of change. Obama said his opponents are trying to repackage old ideas.

Senator OBAMA: What were the Republicans hollering? Drill, baby, drill. What kind of slogan is that?

ELLIOTT: Obama was critical of Republicans for not doing more to help the beleaguered U.S. auto industry.

Senator OBAMA: What we have to do is invest in retooling the auto industry to make our cars more efficient and make sure they're made not in Japan, not in South Korea, but right here in Michigan and right here in the United States of America. That's change.

ELLIOTT: Today, Senator Obama will make what the campaign calls a major policy speech on education reform at a school in Ohio. Later, he'll host a town hall meeting in Virginia, both key states in November. Debbie Elliott, NPR News, Dayton, Ohio.

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