September 6th, 2010
07:24 PM ET
8 years ago

Obama's speech revs up Harley worker

President Obama delivered a fiery speech Monday in Wisconsin.

President Obama delivered a fiery speech Monday in Wisconsin.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin (CNN) - When President Barack Obama rolled out a $50 billion six-year infrastructure proposal Monday, thousands who gathered in Milwaukee were eager to hear his message.

Among them was Henry Haggler. He's worked at a Harley-Davidson plant in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, for almost 16 years.

Haggler has seen cutbacks and layoffs, and now worries about how much more the company will ask his United Steelworkers Union to give up. "We're trying to negotiate a new contract, and their thing is they're trying to whipsaw us," he said, adding "we have a lot of hard working union people, and they're Americans, OK, and we sacrificed a lot."

Like other companies in this tough economy, his Harley-Davidson plant has had to make painful adjustments.

Haggler, who was born and raised in Milwaukee, appears to have an emotional connection to Harley-Davidson. He waxes on about what the company's founding fathers would have wanted.

But when it comes to what he wanted from Obama before the president's speech, he got to the point. "I think he should make a spirited speech about where we are right now and that things are going to turn around,"

Obama was careful about making too many promises, admitting to the crowd he has no "silver bullet," and that, "It will take more time than any of us wants, to dig out of the hole created by this economic crisis."

Nonetheless, the Harley worker, whose union pride runs deep in his veins, gave Obama the benefit of the doubt.

"I think he's done enough," Haggler said. "Look at the sacrifices that he had to make. I would love to have a car but I sure wouldn't want it with four bad tires and a bad engine, but that's what he got."

Filed under: 2010 • Economy • issues • President Obama
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. Fan of Common Sense

    SHEAR STUPIDITY!! Governments do no create prosperity.....only the private sector can do that. What was the economic effect of the 800 BILLION dollars the democrats threw down the sewer last year? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! THIS MORON NEVER LEARNS! Get ready for the OBAMA DEPRESSION.

    September 6, 2010 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  2. sellman

    Is there a shortage of motorcycles? No. Why don't the angry workers start their own motorcycle company if they think they are getting the short end of the stick? Too much risk? Too much work? Welcome to the world of being the business owner.

    September 6, 2010 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  3. Keith in Austin

    A Liberal Democrat like Obama "revving up" a Union Laborer is about as newsworthy as a striptease dancer revving up GIs on a troop train!

    Come on CNN. Are you kiddibg me? Meanwhile, Glenn Beck pulls off a Conservative rally with hundreds of thousands Americans and the majority of your commentary maligned him. How obvious your political biases are!

    September 6, 2010 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  4. Realistic

    It seems like a waste to pour billions more down a hole. He needs to invest that money in canned food and MREs and the like, so as the economy continues to fail people will have food to eat. He did a good job bringing some of the troops home, as they will be needed to patrol the streets of major urban areas to control the populace and maintain order.

    September 6, 2010 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  5. InlandEmperor

    Again Mr President you inspire the American public. Please keep up the good work....and know that most of us are supporting your efforts. While you did not create this mess you have not been shy about wading in and working diligently to extract us from the ridiculous Bush "lite" policies...and their results. Be confident that when all is said and done this country will not be fooled again by the rantings and ravings of the neo-con chicken hawks that put us in this place. The Boners of the world are likely to find themselves shoulder to shoulder with their unemployed constituents. Unfortunately they have protected themselves with benefits that most of us don't enjoy. That too may be coming to a roaring halt now that this country has awakened to that.

    September 6, 2010 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  6. Jim - Michigan

    I thought the president was suppose to be the president for all, yet here he is pandering to unions – again! One would think the 50 billion to the teacher unions to prop up their returement fund would be enough, but here he is back again promising another 50 billion.

    Enough is enough. Wait until November, if the democrats hold both houses then the American people are behind you, if you lose then we are telling you we are tired of handouts and the wasteful spending that we the tax payer will have to pay for.

    Start cutting programs, eliminate some. We are not a nation of victims, America has a work ethic, tell people government, aka the tax payer will not support them for a lifetime any longer. If they want more they need to work for it. END THE HANDOUTS!!!

    September 6, 2010 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  7. Diane

    I love it. He's back!

    September 6, 2010 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  8. barry

    Isn't Harley talking about leaving Wisconsin? I think I have a understanding why now.

    September 6, 2010 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  9. rdepontb

    We knew how angry this President must be, in part at himself for putting up with such a lackluster performance from his staff and Democrats. Especially those who bad-mouth him.

    Gloves off, finally, sir-we hope. We need you to be in top fighting form, and yes, we know we also expect you to be the water carrier for the whole team at the same time.

    If you want our support, you need to keep ratcheting up the fight from our side. You're darned right the Republicans want to stop you-heck, they're fine with stopping the whole country just because you happen to be there too.

    Please-let's have it out with them, now.

    September 6, 2010 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  10. southern cousin

    I really thought all of that was part of the first $1 trillion that was given to the corrupt and slimy union bosses by this inept, incompetent, corrupt, slimy, union toady president they stole the election for. So did all of that money go to line the bank accounts of the union bosses and left wing non working groups that stole the election for this idiot.

    September 6, 2010 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  11. HJA

    All the morons that slam unions need to remember. The benefits you have at your job are due to the unions efforts to improve workers lives. Palin called them union thugs. It was corporate leaders that hired the thugs that killed union leaders in the early years.

    September 6, 2010 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  12. jules sand-perkins

    Unrealistic union expectations are a great part of the problem: of course jobs go overseas.

    September 6, 2010 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  13. Former Republican, now an Independent

    The Union Worker in America has given much more than the news media will tell (including CNN). America's executives haven't given 1% of what the average Union Worker has, yet gets their "hard luck" story told every day especially by Fox Journalism (they don't deserve to be called a news agency).

    September 6, 2010 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  14. Hugo

    2012 Cannot get here soon enough!

    September 6, 2010 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  15. Clwyd

    Of course! Obama is talking to workers and union members over talking to Big Oil, Big Business, Wall Street and the rich. Isn't that the only crowd the repulsive republicans seem to care about and work to help?

    September 6, 2010 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  16. NC Ex-Pub

    It is about time. This is long over due. He has tried to pacify these "NO-NOTHINGS" until it has about cost him his OWN base!

    September 6, 2010 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  17. Richard

    In watching the video of Obama giving the speech in Milwaukee, I noticed something unusual.

    The crowd was overwhelming white, overwhelming union members and overwhelming full of Obama supporters.

    September 6, 2010 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  18. USN

    Just quit ! and we will make it happen BEY BEY OB

    September 6, 2010 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  19. USN

    It didn't work for Rooosivelt ... whyn shoud it work for you ?

    September 6, 2010 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  20. 4Truth

    BUSH/Repubs SPENT $5 Trillion in eight years – BUSH DID NOT leave any reserve funds to solve the BUSH DEPRESSION so blame it on the current administration – Republican policy.

    September 6, 2010 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  21. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I have to say that Obama is the most honest president that I can remember when he tells people that there is "no silver bullet" that can cure the problem, but he is working on it. You have to give him credit for that. Unlike Bush (either one) who stated that he wouldn't raise taxes or would like the tax cuts he made permanent; those show that they weren't fully aware of what was going on with the economy.

    September 6, 2010 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  22. Fired Up! Ready to Go!

    Great speech President Obama! Tell the truth about the Republicans new/old agenda. Nothings changed about their plans. GOP doesnt care about the middle class working ppl. They are only out for the rich. How can anyone forget what theyve done and the mess we are in today because of them and will do more of it if given the chance. Dont EVER own this mess! Dont hold back! Give it back to em! Yes! Tell it like it is! I am behind YOU 100%!

    September 6, 2010 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |