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The purpose of Mr. Obama’s trip to Ohio isn’t to call attention to the automakers’ unpaid tab. Besides the final Fiat sale, he also plans to highlight Chrysler’s announcement that it will repay $5.9 billion in U.S. loans ahead of schedule, and he’ll meet with auto workers and local business owners whose jobs were saved.

“In the last year, the Detroit Three have all gained market share, they have all added jobs, and they’ve all shown the ability to make money,” Mr. Bloom said. “Those three things together haven’t been true of the Detroit Three in a long, long time.”

White House officials say the auto bailouts have saved up to 1 million jobs, taking into account parts suppliers and other businesses that rely on the automakers.

Fending off criticism of Republican Mitt Romney, who announced his candidacy for president Thursday, Mr. Obama’s aides are promoting the description of him as a bold risk-taker whose economic gamble paid off.

“The president took dramatic action because it was the right thing to do,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney. He pointed to seven straight quarters of economic growth.

Still, the overall level of U.S. manufacturing is at its lowest level since September 2009, and unemployment remains high