DETROIT — Vice President Joe Biden celebrated the success of the U.S. auto industry in a speech early today at the 2014 North American International Auto Show.
Mr. Biden didn't promise any federal assistance in his short speech to help the City of Detroit out of its bankruptcy, but predicted a successful outcome.
"Just like the auto industry came back, Detroit's going to come back," Mr. Biden said. He had dinner Wednesday night with Detroit's new mayor, Michael Duggan.
He called Detroit an "iconic city that represents and symbolizes the manufacturing might of the United States of America all through the 20th century."
He said the Obama Administration's $80-billion assistance to Chrysler and General Motors in 2009 helped save the industry that has returned to world leadership and created more than 380,000 jobs.
"We determined that, how could we possibly walk away from the iconic industry of America? When you go around the world, the one thing America was known about - automobiles and aircraft. That's who we were," he said.
Some 250 seated guests and scores more standing heard the vice president in an atrium of the Cobo Center where the annual auto show is about to open to the public.
The vice president fondly talked about a 1967 Corvette that he and his fiancee received as a gift from his father, who managed two car dealerships in Delaware.
He said his sons did some work on the car as a Christmas gift last year and he tried out the car on the grounds of the vice-president's residence in Washington.
"I have a long driveway where I live -- and I said to the chief agent, I said, look, either get in the passenger seat with me or shoot me, because I’m moving," Mr. Biden said to laughs.
After the speech the vice president, who called himself a "car junkie," toured the auto show floor, hopped in cars and trucks and chatted with auto industry executives like new GM Chief Executive Mary Barra. He caressed the back of a shiny new Ford F-150 and told reporters, "I feel like a kid in a candy shop," and "I wanna take a couple of these home."
The vice president, who is considered a possible 2016 Democratic presidential contender, and President Obama have been to Detroit and Toledo repeatedly to celebrate the success of the domestic auto industry after its near-collapse in 2009.
According to the U.S Treasury Department's summary of the auto industry bailout, taxpayers invested approximately $80 billion in the auto industry and has recovered $63.2 billion.
The Detroit News reported that on Wednesday night, Mr. Biden said the federal government will not provide a bailout to help the city exit bankruptcy, but will look for ways to help the Motor City, providing the highest level remarks by the Obama administration on the city’s filing.
“The city will do it on its own, but there’s no reason why the federal government can’t do what we’re already doing,” Biden told reporters after wrapping up a dinner at Roma Cafe with Mayor Duggan, The News reported. “There are things that the city was entitled to, to begin with, that aren’t new monies but they are monies that have been reorganized and brought back in at the mayor’s disposal.”
The vice president also attended a Michigan Democratic Party fund-raiser for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer and U.S. Senate candidate Gary Peters.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.