UPDATE 1-Obama takes manufacturing message on the road, to truck plant

Wed Feb 13, 2013 3:12pm EST
 
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By Roberta Rampton

ASHEVILLE, N.C. Feb 13 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama visited a truck parts plant on Wednesday to highlight the role of U.S. manufacturing in reviving the economy, and follow up on his State of the Union message of strengthening the middle class.

"I believe in manufacturing," he said, standing before a backdrop of massive parts made for 400-ton mining trucks. "It makes our country strong."

Even though manufacturing makes up only roughly 12 percent of the economy, the White House argues that those numbers do not represent the importance of a sector that produces jobs that pay well and creates economic benefits beyond individual factories.

"Manufacturing punches above its weight," National Economic Council Chairman Gene Sperling said on Wednesday.

A day after his annual address to Congress in which he argued that the economic recovery must focus on creating opportunities for middle class workers, Obama hit the road for a three-day tour to rally public support for his proposals.

The president said on Tuesday he would pursue policies that would bring more jobs to the United States, train workers for the demands of changing technology, and ensure that workers could earn enough to escape poverty.

The Linamar Corp plant Obama visited is making engine blocks and wheel axles for giant mining trucks, and is emblematic of the type of manufacturing renaissance he hopes will take place more broadly.   Continued...