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United States : Obama to visit Detroit auto plants.

President Barack Obama will visit General Motors and Chrysler plants in Detroit next Friday, followed by a stop at Ford's Chicago factory a week later, a pre-election victory lap through the U.S. auto industry rescued by his administration.The trip will be the Obama administration's attempt to go on the political offensive with one of the few good-news economic stories it has at hand: the comeback of GM, Chrysler and auto suppliers following their government-sponsored bankruptcies last year.

His visit to Michigan will come just four days before the Aug. 3 primary election."Those decisions are paying off in having saved hundreds of thousands of jobs, and put us on a path toward a revitalized industry making cars of the future," said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs.

But as much as Obama would like greater credit, the automakers themselves likely would prefer a softer sell.

GM's new management under CEO Ed Whitacre has been pushing to get out of the government's embrace as fast as possible, speeding toward a public stock offering expected in November that would start unwinding the U.S. Treasury's 60.8% stake.

Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has pledged to pay back Chrysler's federal loans years ahead of schedule. And Ford has spent much of the past year trying to distance itself from its Detroit rivals without explicitly advertising that it didn't need a federal rescue.

Republicans in Congress have made a habit of critiquing every move GM makes through the filter of its government stake, from the purchase of subprime lender AmeriCredit for $3.5 billion on Thursday to the method it used to close dealerships. Obama's visit inevitably will be knocked for coming just ahead of GM filing the paperwork for its share sale.

The Obama administration says it's ready for those criticisms.

"The financial position of these companies is getting stronger, and that's good news for taxpayers," Gibbs said, adding: "This is an opportunity for the president to talk about the progress that we made. This doesn't have anything to do with the stocks."

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Date:Jul 26, 2010
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