ELKHART, Ind. – In the 88 months between President Obama’s first stop here in February 2009 and his “economic victory tour” visit on Wednesday, the United States – especially the RV industry – has seen its fortunes improve.
The president made his case that much of the credit goes to his administration in a well-received speech at Concord High School, followed by an invitation-only appearance for PBS at the Lerner Theatre in downtown Elkhart.
“By almost every economic measure, America is better off than when I came here” in 2009, the president said, to one of several standing ovations.
Few in the crowd would disagree, and no one in the RV industry can deny that improvements have occurred. During the president’s first visit, Elkhart County – which is epicenter for RV manufacturing in the U.S. – was mired in a deep economic slump that tanked at a jobless rate of 20 percent.
“I told you then I would have your back, “ he said to loud cheers.
He made the case that the policies passed under his watch stimulated manufacturing job growth, reined in Wall Street excesses, helped make the U.S. less dependent on foreign oil and provided health insurance for 20 million uninsured Americans.
Referring to the ongoing RV industry recovery and the RVIA forecast calling for 400,000 wholesale shipments this year, Obama said, “But we would not have come this far – Elkhart would not have come this far – if we hadn’t made a series of smart decisions.”
“The result proves our focus has paid off. Elkhart proves it,” he added.
In the subsequent Town Hall Meeting, hosted by PBS NewsHour co-anchor Gwen Ifill, the president continued his theme that the U.S. “is well positioned to go forward.”
When asked about any regrets on the domestic front during his two terms in office, President Obama said he “would’ve tried to describe earlier to the American people how serious the recession was going to be, which would have, hopefully, allowed a bigger response than we did.” As it was, he said, “our response was actually bigger than the New Deal.”