WAYNE (WWJ/AP) –  Speaking in metro Detroit on Wednesday, President Barack Obama praised the 2009 federal auto bailout, calling it a success story that shows government can work.

He says that because of economic steps his administration took early on “we are entering the new year with new confidence that America is coming back.”

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Obama is on a pre-State of the Union trip to draw attention to themes he intends to highlight in his Jan. 20 speech to Congress.

He spoke after touring a Ford assembly plant in Wayne, where he examined several vehicles and slid behind the wheel of a new red Mustang. He said, “This is an American car right here.”

The government spent nearly $80 billion bailing out Chrysler and General Motors. Last month the government reported it recouped nearly $71 billion.

“The auto industry has proved that any comeback is possible; and, by the way, so has the Motor City,” the President added.

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The event was held in the plant’s vehicle pre-delivery area, where behind the podium four 2015 Ford Focus vehicles, and shiny new exhaust system and engine parts were on display.

Liza Currie, a team manager in the Wayne plant’s trim area, said she was excited by the president’s visit. Currie calls the industry’s revival “absolutely phenomenal.”

The Michigan Assembly Plant is temporarily closed this week because of lack of demand for the small cars and hybrids it makes. Falling gas prices have hurt sales of the Ford Focus, which saw sales drop 6 percent in 2014, and the C-Max hybrid, which was down 22 percent.

Automakers often close plants temporarily to make sure their inventories match demand. Ford said the plant will reopen Monday.

The President will be in Phoenix Thursday to discuss proposals for making home ownership more affordable, and close his roadshow Friday in Tennessee, where he is expected to tout the state’s new policy to pay for community college tuition.

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