Obama: Indiana 'factories coming back to life'

August 5, 2009 (WAKARUSA, Ind.) Obama said $2.4 billion in stimulus money will help Indiana build new electric cars and create thousands of new jobs.

The president spoke in Wakarusa, Indiana, an area that has been hard hit by the recession.

For the first time ever, a presidential motorcade sped through the streets of tiny Wakarusa, a town with a population of 1,700.

"It was quite an experience...just to see the man go by," said Loren Begley, Elkhart Co. resident.

President Barack Obama was headed to the Navistar factory on the edge of town to announce a federal stimulus grant to develop battery powered cars. It's the old Monaco Coach RV plant that just few months ago was nearly shut down.

"This is not just an investment to produce vehicles today. This is an investment in our capacity to develop new technologies tomorrow," said Obama.

It's Obama's third visit to Elkhart County in the past year. In the first trip, during last summer's campaign, and two more trips since the inauguration he's promised relief from the regions nearly 17 percent unemployment rate.

"My son's lost two jobs with the economy the way it's been. A lot of people out of work, a lot of people hurting," said Angie Cleveland, Wakarusa resident.

"You get a job at a factory around here, get laid off, find another job, get laid off. It's kinda the cycle around here," said Matthew Cleveland, Wakarusa resident.

"So overall the companies believe these investments in battery technology will save or create thousands of Hoosier jobs," said Obama.

At Cook's Pizza, Wakarusans watched the president's speech on live television.

"It's really great to hear the president say that number one priority is to bring jobs back to Elkhart county," said Walt Weldy, Wakarusa resident.

But when Obama plugged his healthcare plan there was a mixed reaction.

"Obviously we need to take care of our citizens but we need to do it so that it doesn't hurt others in the process," said Melissa Troxel, Elkhart Co. resident.

Obama won Indiana but lost heavily Republican Elkhart County to John McCain last November.

Shopkeeper Matt McNally says the president's continued focus on blue collar, working class voters here could pay big political dividends in the future.

"Absolutely, the middle of America, that's what he's going for and I think he's found it here," said McNally.

While the president spoke in Indiana, the vice president was in Detroit announcing similar grants to factories there.

The president flew back to Washington immediately following his speech.

Charles has more on the political beat in his Precinct 7 Blog.

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