* Gibbs happy to "I told you so"
* Obama to visit an auto plant
By Patricia Zengerle
WASHINGTON, Nov 18 President Barack Obama and
Vice President Joe Biden will both travel to an Indiana city
that is home to several automobile plants next week, the White
House said on Thursday, in the wake of General Motors'
successful stock offering.
The trip to Kokomo, Indiana, will take place on Tuesday,
Nov. 23. Major employers in Kokomo include Chrysler LLC and the
auto parts supplier Delphi Corp.
General Motors shares shot up as much as 9 percent on
Thursday as investors bet that the top U.S. automaker can make
a lasting recovery as it returns to private ownership after a
blockbuster initial public offering.
The start of trading in GM shares was one of the final
steps in an IPO process negotiated by the Obama administration
that raised $20.1 billion in common and preferred shares,
making it the biggest IPO in U.S. history, and helping to
justify the administration's industry bailout.
"The government's stake in a rescue efforts prior to today'
IPO was 61 percent reduced down now to 26 percent," White House
spokesman Robert Gibbs told a news briefing.
"We continue to be on track to recoup the entire investment
made by the Obama administration in the survival of GM and
Chrysler and, quite candidly, the entire domestic auto
industry," he said.
Obama, who was to make a statement on General Motors later
on Thursday, will visit an auto plant when he is in Kokomo, an
administration official said.
"In recent years, Kokomo has been hard-hit by devastating
plant closing and layoffs, but with the help of the Recovery
Act and the Administration's auto restructuring plan, Kokomo is
on the rebound today and unemployment has dropped by nearly 8
percentage points since mid-2009," the administration said in a
It said a new hybrid vehicle component manufacturing plant
has opened in Kokomo with the help of a grant from Obama's
Recovery Act economic stimulus program. Chrysler, which was
also part of the auto industry bailout, has invested $300
million in its Kokomo plant, which has helped retain more than
1,000 workers, the White House said.
Gibbs said the successful IPO put the lie to those who had
scoffed at the bailout plan.
"It is hard to look at where we are today and think that it
is anything other than a successful idea and good news," Gibbs
said. "... I'm happy to do the 'I told you so.'"
(Editing by Chris Wilson)