Hailing an economic recovery story that he hopes will propel him to reelection, President Obama today declared "the U.S. auto industry is back."
"When you look at all these cars, it is testimony to the outstanding work that's been done by workers - American workers, American designers," the president said in a surprise visit to the Washington Auto Show this afternoon.
While he did not mention Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney by name, Obama, who has made his efforts to rescue Chrysler and General Motors a key part of his campaign strategy, was quick to point out that some people opposed the auto industry bailout.
"It's good to remember the fact that there were some folks who were willing to let this industry die," Obama said. Romney has criticized the bailout, saying it "was the wrong way to go" and that the companies should have gone through bankruptcy instead.
Touring the latest electric and hybrid American-made models in the showroom today, the president, who is forbidden from driving by the secret service, was practically giddy to get behind the wheel.
"This is a classic here," the president said with a grin as he sat in the driver's seat of a bright blue Ford sports car. "This is what I needed in high school."
"This was the first new car I ever bought," a nostalgic Obama said as he surveyed a cherry red Jeep.
But it was the Corvette that really won the president over. "I got to get in the Corvette," Obama said eagerly. "How fast does this thing go?"
"I had a friend who had a Corvette. He let me drive it one time. One time," Obama said wistfully.