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Recapturing some of the magic of his fiery 2008 campaign speeches, Barack Obama delivered a resounding defense of the bailout of the American auto industry before 1,700 screaming fans at the United Auto Workers convention in Washington on Tuesday.

Mocking the Republicans across the country who derided the rescue as propping up a broken industry weighed down by excessive labor costs, Obama told the crowd — which repeatedly broke out into chants of “Four more years!” — he had placed a bet on American workers and that they were delivering, General Motors having posted its largest profits in history last year.

“It’s been funny to watch some of these politicians completely rewrite history now that you’re back on your feet,” Obama said. “These are the folks who said if we went forward with our plan to rescue Detroit, ‘You can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye.'” That line is a quote from Mitt Romney’s 2008 op-ed in The New York Times, which Obama repeatedly referred to without mentioning the candidate by name.

“Now they’re saying they were right all along,” he added of bailout foes. “Or worse, they’re saying that the problem is that you, the workers, made out like bandits in all of this; that saving the American auto industry was just about paying back unions. Really? Even by the standards of this town, that’s a load of you-know-what.”

Leaning on his Protestant cadence and a folksy drawl that seemed perfectly tuned for the occasion, Obama then took things up a notch.

“You want to talk about values? Hard work — that’s a value. Looking out for one another — that’s a value. The idea that we’re all in it together — that I am my brother’s keeper; I am my sister’s keeper — that is a value. But they’re still talking about you as if you’re some greedy special interest that needs to be beaten. Since when are hardworking men and women special interests? Since when is the idea that we look out for each other a bad thing? To borrow a line from our old friend Ted Kennedy: What is it about working men and women they find so offensive?”

Here’s the video, showcasing the Obama many on the left have been waiting for since his historic election four years ago:

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