Gov. Bentley: Obama wrong on autos

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Governor Robert Bentley felt it necessary Friday to respond to President Barack Obama's speech last night on jobs.

During that speech, President Obama spoke about the need to manufacture more cars in the United States that can be sold abroad.

"If Americans can buy Kias and Hyundais, I want to see folks in South Korea driving Fords and Chevys and Chryslers" Obama said. "I want to see more products sold around the world stamped with the three proud words: "Made in America." That's what we need to get done."

Gov. Bentley says he wants to remind the president that Alabama is a center for American made automobiles. "We've got Honda, Hyundai, and Toyota." Bentley also remarked how Mercedes-Benz has a Tuscaloosa plant.

The governor also heralded the South as a region for American automotive manufacturing.

"These companies that he's saying need to be American made, they come to the South." Bentley said. "They come to Tennessee and Georgia and Alabama because we're a right to work state. I have nothing against labor unions, but these companies will not look at states that are not right to work states."

Alabama is one of more than 20 "Right to work" states that do not have labor union requirements in order to work in a particular industry. Membership in the United Auto Workers labor union has been a requirement to work in many American automotive plants for years including Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors.

None of Alabama's four plants' employees are aligned with the UAW. Honda's plant is Lincoln, Hyundai's in Montgomery, and Toyota's in Huntsville.

According to the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, more than $7 billion has been invested in the state's automotive manufacturing industry total and it produced more than 700,000 cars in 2010.

Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange also commented on the president's remarks. The Montgomery Hyundai plant employs thousands of Montgomery residents.

"I would hope that he appreciates the fact that these are American workers making these cars in the United States in Alabama, in Mississippi, in Tennessee, in Georgia" Strange said. "And that he would encourage the United States citizenry to go out and buy automobiles that are made here in the United States."

Governor Bentley spoke about how he spent a couple of hours with President Obama when he traveled to Tuscaloosa to survey April's tornado damage.

"I'd love to spend some more time with him" Bentley said. "I would love for him to come back and see what a true American made car looks like."

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