LIBERTY, Mo. - President Obama used the rebound of the auto industry to prove his economic credentials and warm up supporters for another showdown with Republicans in Congress this fall.
From touchdown to takeoff, President Obama's three-hour trip to Missouri on Friday for a speech at Ford's massive new plant in Liberty was all about the economy.
After touring the metal stamping plant, the president piled praise on the recovering auto industry.
"The only thing built tougher than Ford Trucks are American Workers... the American people," Obama told hundreds of supporters.
He joked that Ford wasn't the only big name turning itself around in Kansas City
"When I said I was flying in to Kansas City to see an incredible success story in action, I did not think I was going to be talking about the Chiefs," he joked, before pointing out his hometown Chicago Bears are also undefeated.
The success story that brought him from Washington, he said, was an economy bouncing back from the worst of the recession.
"We've cleared away the rubble from the crisis. We've started to lay a new foundation for economic growth," he said.
But the speech wasn't all pep rally, with the president forcefully defending his healthcare law, and chastising Congress for politicizing the debate over raising the nation's debt ceiling.
"The guy who was running against me said he was going to repeal it. We won," Obama said.
"This is the United States of America. We're not some banana republic. This is not a deadbeat nation. We don't run out on our tab," he said.
With an audience made up in large part of auto workers, the president used a truck metaphor to help explain the concept of raising the nation's borrowing limit.
"Raising the debt ceiling is not the same as approving more spending, any more than making your monthly payments adds to the total cost of your truck," Obama said. "You don't say I'm not going to pay my bill, my note for the truck because I'm going save money. No you're not saving money, you already bought the truck."
The President said he had one more connection with the Ford plants in our area. He told the crowd here that before becoming President, he bought a Ford Escape, made right around the corner at the plant in Claycomo.
Nowadays, he joked, his armored limousine is a rental.