CHICAGO, July 30 (Xinhua) -- President Barack Obama praised the revitalization of the U.S. auto industry as he got a first-hand look at Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs coming off an assembly line of Chrysler in Detroit on Friday.
He said that when he took office, "the industry looked like it was going off a cliff." He defended his decision to rescue the big auto companies with an 86-billion-dollar government bailout.
The president acknowledged it was a hard decision, but said it was the right thing to do to save the companies.
He said the Chrysler factory was evidence of the bailout's success. "You are proving the naysayers wrong," Obama said.
He noted that all three big U.S. automakers, namely GM, Ford and Chrysler, are "operating at a profit, for the first time in six years."
The president's visit came as Chrysler said it would keep its Sterling Heights plant open after 2012, and add 900 more workers next year. Obama got big applause when he announced that.
Wearing safety glasses and minus his jacket, Obama got a 20- minute tour of Jefferson North, where he peered inside half- completed vehicles, shook hands and patted workers on the back.
Hundreds of Detroiters lined Conner Street as the presidential motorcade rolled to Jefferson North. One held up a sign that read: "UAW thanks you."