"Joe the Plumber" was one of the top symbols of the 2008 presidential election. Now, get ready for "James the Jeep Worker" in 2012.
James Fayson, a production operator assembler at Chrysler Group LLC's Toledo Assembly complex, is set to appear in a video directed for President Obama's 2012 re-election campaign. The Toledo resident, 36, has spent 14 years working at the complex, which has a group of factories that make Jeep Wrangler vehicles and a factory that makes Jeep Liberty and Dodge Nitro vehicles.
President Obama is in Toledo Friday to tour the Wrangler plant -- next to the one where Mr. Fayson works -- just more than a week after Chrysler repaid $7.6 billion in federal bailout loans. The President is expected to tout the success of the 2009 automotive bailouts.
A source familiar with the Obama campaign confirmed that Mr. Fayson participated in a video for the President's re-election campaign. Details of the video, such as when and where it will appear, were not provided.
OBAMA'S INTENDED ITINERARY
A film crew followed Mr. Fayson for several hours Wednesday, he said, documenting his daily routine outside work and interviewing him about his automotive career, as well as his support for the government-backed turnaround of Chrysler and General Motors Co. In his interview, Mr. Fayson said the federal bailout allowed him to return to work late last year after he was laid off from Chrysler in 2009.
"I'm very thankful to be back to work, and it's only because of the decision that the President made to save the auto industry that I was afforded [the chance] to come back to work," Mr. Fayson said.
He will be one of the Chrysler workers attending Friday's ceremony with the President.
Bruce Baumhower, president of United Auto Workers Local 12 that represents the Toledo Assembly workers, asked Mr. Fayson to participate in a conference call with reporters last week as Chrysler paid off its bailout loans.
Mr. Fayson's story of being laid off and returning to his job after the bailout was touted by state and national Democratic officials on the call, including U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo), as an example in defending the automotive bailout.
Mr. Baumhower said Mr. Fayson's story is representative of other automotive workers who were forced to make tough career decisions as the Detroit Three automakers worked toward recovery.
"Many of them had to decide to take a buyout and walk away from their automotive career, or remain on layoff and hope to someday return, not knowing if the company would survive and, if it survived, would they be apart of it," Mr. Baumhower said.
Mr. Fayson said he was "nervous and excited" to be involved in the campaign video.
"I couldn't sleep the night before because I knew they were coming," said Mr. Fayson, who began filming at his house with the camera crew at about 4:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Mr. Fayson said he looks forward to seeing the video when it eventually airs.
"To have a documentary on me was a different experience," he said. "And I pretty much just spoke from the heart."
Contact Sheena Harrison at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6103.