Obama to visit battleground Ohio to promote Chrysler recovery

President Obama will visit Toledo, Ohio, next week to further promote Chrysler's rebound.

The White House said that Obama will visit a Chrysler plant in Toledo next Friday to trumpet Chrysler's move this week to pay off the remainder of its 2009 bailout loans from the U.S. and Canadian governments.

The administration and its Democratic allies have sought to turn Chrysler's rebound into political capital, particularly in Ohio and Michigan, two battleground states where the decline of the auto industry has had a particularly pronounced effect on the local economy.

Obama released a statement Tuesday taking credit for the reversal in fortune for Chrysler, which underwent a government-supervised bailout in 2009 that resulted in its acquisition by the Italian automaker Fiat. Similarly, the administration has played up action taken by General Motors (GM) to repay tens of billions in bailout money.

The trip to Toledo is no accident; the city's been a battleground in recent election cycles, as well as a host to a variety of presidential candidates and political advertising in the fall during election years. Vice President Biden visited the city's Jeep plant last August, and attended a last-minute campaign rally there for Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland (D) last fall.

Both the president and the vice president made a number of trips to Ohio last year, mindful of the state's important role in presidential elections; no candidate has won the election without Ohio's electoral votes since John F. Kennedy in 1960.

A poll of Ohio's registered voters earlier this week found them split, 47 percent - 47 percent, on whether Obama deserves a second term. Republicans made inroads in the state last year after winning the governorship and several House seats, and have hoped to keep that momentum going through 2012.

Republicans say that Obama's praise for Chrysler's recovery ignores the fact that the Treasury Department said Tuesday that taxpayers are unlikely to recover $1.9 billion in investments in Chrysler. And former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R), a top presidential candidate to face off against Obama, claimed credit for the bankruptcies into which GM and Chrysler were forced, framing himself as an early advocate for that approach.

Updated 5:07 p.m.

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