Bin Laden is dead and GM is alive: Ahead of speech to unionized auto workers, President talks about his "first" car...
Running with the key campaign theme that Americans are better off because "bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive," President Obama kicked off his Labor Day by having a "surprise" breakfast with three auto workers at Toledo, Ohio's Rick's City Diner. Arriving at his table via a back kitchen entrance at 11:06 AM, the President enjoyed coffee and scrambled eggs, bacon, a side of hash browns and whole wheat toast. He was joined by Daniel Schlieman, who works at the Perrysburg Wrangler plant; Heather Finfrock, an employee at GM's Powertrain plant in Toledo; and James Fayson, a production operator at the Toledo Jeep plant (from left, above).
The President's hourlong eat n' greet came ahead of a speech at Scott High School to a crowd of unionized auto workers.
"Ignore these people," President Obama, clad in a light blue checked shirt and khaki pants, advised his guests as members of the media descended on the wall-side table for a five-minute photo op.
"But I'll make sure to come around and say 'hi' to everybody," the President announced to the other patrons before taking his seat. He got a round of applause.
Fayson, 37, is used to having cameras in his face. A film crew for the Obama campaign followed him around as he worked at Chrysler Group LLC’s Toledo Assembly complex in 2011, taping a campaign ad for the President. Fayson, a member of UAW Local 12, voiced his support for the Administration's auto bailout. It earned him the nickname around Toledo as "James the Jeep Worker," the campaign's equivalent of 2008's Joe the Plumber, the Toledo Blade reported.
President Obama talked Jeep at the breakfast, too, telling his companions that his first car was a "bright and shiny" Jeep, and the "seat was all comfortable." In March of this year, Mr. Obama said in an interview with AAA that his first car was a Ford Granada given to him by his grandfather.
"It rattled and it shook," President Obama told AAA. "And I don't think the girls were particularly impressed."
But never mind quibbling historic details. At the diner, Fayson had a copy of the Toledo Blade with him, and the President picked it up, looking at the front page and remarking on a story, and then said he should autograph it.
"So how are things going at the plant?" Mr. Obama asked, his elbows on the table and arms crossed.
"I'm very excited," Mr. Fayson replied.
Meantime, Vice President Joe Biden marked Labor Day in downtown Detroit, once the nerve center of America's auto industry.
"You want to know whether we're better off?" Biden said to a cheering crowd of about 3,500. "I've got a little bumper sticker for you: Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive."
The President departed Rick's at 12:03 PM, and was at Scott High School five minutes later, where he touted his efforts to save the American auto industry, and embroidered on the same speech he's given for the last three days on his Road to Charlotte tour, which kicked off on Saturday in Iowa.
The President did, however, insert an incredibly long football metaphor to describe what he deemed the many failures of the Romney/Ryan plan for America. The transcript of his remarks.
Since his first official campaign rally on May 5th, President Obama has done ten other rallies in Ohio, a battleground that has 18 electoral college votes. He traveled to Louisiana after his Toledo speech to view relief efforts following Hurricane Isaac.
The President's long weekend was filled with food stops; CLICK HERE for all posts about the Road to Charlotte.
The bios of the President's guests, as provide by a campaign official:
Heather is a safety trainer at the General Motors Powertrain plant in Toledo and a member of UAW Local 14. Heather’s role as an Alternate Committee Person for UAW Local 14 Powertrain Unit prevented her from being laid off when GM filed for bankruptcy. Not only did she keep her job but she was also able to help her union brothers and sisters navigate their way through unemployment. Heather supports the President because he fights for the middle class and believes that if it weren’t for the President rescuing the auto industry, more auto workers would have lost their jobs and the whole Toledo-area would be in shambles.
Dan has worked for the last six years at the Perrysburg Wrangler plant where he prepares cars to be painted. About a year after he began working at the plant, Dan was laid off for four months after Chrysler went bankrupt. At that time, he was also a newlywed and soon-to-be father; he is now a father of two young sons. Dan is back working again and believes that the President’s auto rescue helped “save” his family.
James works at the Toledo Jeep plant as a production operator where he helps build Jeep automobiles on the assembly line. He is also a member of UAW Local 12.
Fifteen years ago when he was just 21, James took a job at Chrysler—a company he planned to work at until retirement. However, once Chrysler declared bankruptcy, James suddenly found himself unemployed and said that time was a “daunting, scary period.” James is back working at Chrysler and is excited about his future with the company. He is appreciative of the President’s auto rescue as it helped to get him back to work.
Info: Rick's City Diner is at 2633 West Bancroft Street Toledo, OH, 43607. Phone: (419) 536-1117.
*Photo by Dave Zpotsky/The Blade