Obama blasts 'just say no' Republicans in autos victory lap

President Obama criticized what he called "the 'just say no' crowd in Washington" for their opposition to his decision last March to bail out U.S. auto companies.

In front of a raucous and supportive crowd of auto-plant workers at Chrysler's Jefferson North assembly plant, Obama boasted of jobs that have been saved at the Detroit-area auto plant, and told workers in the swing state to remember Republicans who called the companies "the worst investment you can make."

"I wish they were standing here today. I wish you could see what I'm seeing in this plant," Obama said. "I don't think they'd be willing to look you in the eye and say you were a bad investment."

Obama pivoted between defending the unpopular decision to give $60 billion to Chrysler and GM — on top of $25 billion they received from the Bush administration — to help the struggling companies.

In the year before bankruptcy, GM and Chrysler lost 340,000 jobs. Since the bailout and restructured bankruptcies, the companies have added 55,000 jobs.

"We've got a long way to go, but we're beginning to see that some of these tough decisions are paying off," Obama said.

Republicans and some economists are warning that this is a temporary turnaround for the companies, pointing to increased demand from the taxpayer-funded Cash for Clunkers program.

The president, however, was clearly happy to seize on the good news, temporary or not, and hit Republicans at the same time.

In full campaign mode, Obama won boos against Republicans when he reminded the crowd that Republicans and critics who accused him of buying the auto companies with taxpayer money.

"I placed that faith in you and all of Amercia's auto workers, and you vindicated that belief," Obama said. "You are proving the naysayers wrong."

The president appeared to be enjoying the rally as he bashed his critics, exclaiming: "I will bet on the American worker any day of the week" and finishing with "We are coming back."