Obama celebrates auto recovery in politically-important Toledo

President Barack Obama greets a waiting crowd on the tarmac after arriving at Toledo Express Airport, Friday, June 3, 2011.

A bright light is being shined on northwest Ohio Friday as President Barack Obama draws attention to the auto industry's rebound with a visit to North Toledo's Chrysler plant.

The president makes his way to politically important Ohio as he seeks to highlight a rare bright spot in the nation's sluggish economic recovery.

Chrysler was at the brink of bankruptcy in 2009 when it received a cash infusion from the U.S. government of approximately $7.6 billion. Italian automaker, Fiat, also acquired 20 percent ownership of the company, giving it a cash infusion in exchange for access to Chrysler's network of North American dealerships.

The Bush and Obama administrations spent $80 billion to bail out General Motors and Chrysler. Obama intends to defend the bailouts as money well spent. He is also expected to speak to local business owners and plant workers at the North Toledo supplier park about the significance of the auto industry's turnaround.

The trip comes as the government prepares to announce May unemployment figures amid signs that hiring may be slowing. It also comes just days after Republican Mitt Romney threw his hat into the ring as a 2012 Republican presidential contender. On Thursday, Romney issued a direct challenge to the man he wants to replace and pitched himself as ready to repair the nation's struggling economy. "Barack Obama has failed America," he said.

The president landed at Toledo Express Airport shortly before Noon Friday. After shaking hands with those in a gathered crowd, he headed towards Rudy's Hot Dog on Sylvania Ave. where he surprised about two dozens customers. "As an aficionado of hot dogs, you don't put ketchup on hot dogs," Pres. Obama joked as Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D) ordered her dogs with ketchup.

Kaptur, along with Sen. Sherrod Brown and Toledo Mayor Mike Bell, accompanied the President as he departed from Toledo Express.

TRAFFIC NOTE: As the president's motorcade travels through the Toledo-area Friday, the route between Toledo Express Airport and North Toledo's Chrysler plant on Stickney Ave. will be closed to traffic. This include portions of I-75, the Ohio Turnpike, Airport Highway and all overpasses along the route. The motorcade leaves the airport shortly before Noon and is expected to return back to Toledo Express after 3:00 p.m.

(The Associated Press contributed to this article.)