President Barack Obama promoted the revival of the U.S. auto industry Tuesday, taking his pitch to the heart of the Rust Belt where a bruising economy has taken its toll on Democrats.
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden toured a rebounding Chrysler transmission plant in this hard-hit industrial city, holding it up as a symbol of the “hope and confidence” of a better economy even while millions are still unemployed and hurting.
The economic message, however, was overshadowed by North Korea’s surprise shelling Tuesday of a South Korean island, a provocation that added another complication to Obama’s recent foreign policy challenges.
The trip to Kokomo, a city Obama visited during his 2008 presidential campaign, came on the same day the Commerce Department reported that the economy grew slightly faster this summer than expected. It also followed GM’s initial public stock offering last week, a turnabout sign for the bailed out automaker.
But in a more sobering development that underscored the president’s difficulties, the Federal Reserve lowered its outlook for the economy through 2011, citing worse-than-expected growth.