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Michigan, which Mr. Obama won in 2008, will be a key battleground state in next year’s presidential election.

But the president has been losing support from voters there. Democrats are upset that he isn’t doing more to help unions, while independents aren’t happy about the economy.

Across the country, public approval of the president’s handling of the economy sank to 26 percent in a recent Gallup poll.

The tensions are nowhere higher than in Michigan, which has one of the worst unemployment rates in the country -at 10.9 percent in July. Detroit is even worse at 14.1 percent.

Mr. Obama traveled there, hoping to change voter opinions.

“This is a city that’s been to heck and back,” he said. “You ask somebody here if times are tough, they’ll say, ‘Yeah, it’s tough, but we’re tougher.’ “

He reminded the crowd that he was behind a bailout that has seen the Big Three auto companies - General Motors, Ford and Chrysler - get back to making a profit and hiring new workers.

“We said that American autoworkers could once again build the best cars in the world,” he said. “So we stood by the auto industry.”