David Shepardson / Detroit News Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON -- Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama will visit Chrysler's Sterling Heights stamping plant Wednesday, the campaign announced today.
The morning visit is dubbed a "drop-by" by campaign satffers. Obama also is expected to meet with some Chrysler executives.
Michigan Democrats said the visit is important so Obama gets a first-hand look at the struggles of the U.S. auto industry"We are all going to pull together. Everybody recognizes the importance of this trip," said Debbie Dingell, a Democratic party activist. "Sen. Obama clearly has shown he wants to take time to understand Michigan and its issues."
Obama hasn't spared automakers criticism or softened his rhetoric. He has touted his tough talk in campaign ads across the country.
"Detroit ended up making investments in SUVs and large trucks because that's where they perceived a competitive advantage and that's where they felt they could make the most profit," the Illinois senator told host Tim Russert on May 3. "I think it was a mistake for them not to plan earlier, and now we're seeing a huge growth in fuel-efficient cars that is benefiting the Japanese automakers and Detroit is getting pounded some more."
In May 2007, after accusing Detroit automakers of failing to do enough to improve the efficiency of their vehicles, Obama was criticized after it was disclosed he drive a hemi-powered V-8 Chrysler 300C.
Ford Motor Co. Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr. said at the time he was "very disappointed" in Obama's comments and noted that Ford builds more efficient vehicles than the 300C at its Chicago Assembly plant, in Obama's home state of Illinois.
Soon afterward, Obama's campaign announced that the candidate had sold the 300C and bought a Ford Escape Hybrid.
Obama now is mostly shuttled around in large SUVs, since he is under Secret Service protection.
Obama visited a General Motors Corp. assembly plant in Janesville, Wisconsin on Feb. 13.
The senator also will hold a town hall meeting at Macomb Community College and make a stop in Grand Rapids Wednesday evening.