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Obama: 'U.S. auto industry is back'

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Obama: 'U.S. auto industry is back'
U.S. President Barack Obama looks at cars during a visit to the DC Auto Show at the Convention Center on January 31, 2012 on Washington, DC. UPI/Olivier Douliery/Pool | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama told executives, engineers and designers at the Washington Auto Show Tuesday, "The U.S. auto industry is back."

Obama inspected about 15 new electric and hybrid models from Ford, Dodge, and General Motors. The president walked down the line of cars as each company representative explained fuel efficiency, manufacturing and design.

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Obama actually got inside many of the cars, sitting behind the wheel as he looked at interiors.

"Let me just say, when you look at all these cars, it is testimony to the outstanding work that's been done by workers -- American workers, American designers," Obama said. "The U.S. auto industry is back. The fact that GM is back, No. 1, I think shows the kind of turnaround that's possible when it comes to American manufacturing."

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The president's remarks were punctuated by chants of "Obama, Obama, Obama" from the crowd.

"And it's good to remember that the fact that there were some folks who were willing to let this industry die, because of folks coming together, we are now back in a place where we can compete with any car company in the world," Obama said. "And these are not only selling here in the United States, they also serve as a platform for us to sell product all around the world."

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The U.S. auto industry was toppling in 2008 and 2009 until a government bailout helped GM and Chrysler. Ford did not apply for government loans.

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One car appeared to catch the president's eye Tuesday. "I'm just very proud of what we're seeing here. That Camaro with the American Eagle and the American flag -- that helps tell the story," he said.

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