Obama touts stimulus, taking shots at Michigan's Rep. Peter Hoekstra

By Anne E. Kornblut
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 16, 2010

HOLLAND, MICH. -- Four months before the midterm elections, President Obama is trying to lock onto an economic message to convince voters that the 2009 government stimulus package was worth it -- and is working. The stakes are especially high in Michigan, where severe unemployment and the hard-hit automotive industry have made the economy an even more potent issue than usual in this year's campaigns.

Obama inserted himself into one Michigan race Thursday, taking a shot at Rep. Peter Hoekstra, who is running for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. Obama welcomed Hoekstra during his opening remarks at the car battery plant here. At the same moment, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs sent a note to reporters pointing out Hoekstra as a "great quote opportunity!" in the audience. Hoekstra has been a vocal critic of the stimulus package -- which provided funding for projects like the battery plant.

"There are some folks who want to go back, who think we should return to the policies that helped to lead to this recession," Obama said later in his comments honoring an advanced car battery factory being built by the company LG Chem. "Some made the political calculation that it's better to obstruct than lend a hand. They said no to the tax cuts, they said no to small-business loans, they said no to clean-energy projects. It doesn't stop them from coming to ribbon-cuttings -- but that's okay."

Hoekstra, interviewed afterward, called Obama's remarks "unpresidential."

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