MOBILE, Ala. — During a speech aides say is designed to “pivot” back to economic issues, President Barack Obama referred to the newly built Airbus facility in Mobile as one of the accomplishments made possible by his presidency.
But, according to a number of Alabama Republicans, the decision to open the plant in Mobile predates Obama’s presidency. And in 2008, the Department of Defense awarded a $1.5-billion contract to Airbus to produce four A330-based aircraft in Mobile, only to ultimately give the contract to another company.
U.S. aircraft manufacturer juggernaut Boeing protested the original award and, in a rare move, the Department of Defense set the contract up for another round of bidding, which occurred under President Barack Obama’s administration. Boeing was eventually awarded the lucrative contract.
Nonetheless, Obama made reference to Alabama’s aircraft manufacturing in his speech on Wednesday. That drew the protests of not only Sens. Richard Shelby and Jeff Session, but outgoing local Rep. Jo Bonner as well.
“I was surprised to hear that President Obama has claimed credit for the decision of Airbus to come to Mobile,” Sessions said. “Indeed, his actions in tilting to Chicago-based Boeing in the intense tanker competition with Airbus could have been a fatal blow to the Airbus desire to construct a manufacturing facility in Alabama. In fact, his campaign, in an unseemly way, bragged about Boeing’s win.”
Sessions went on to point out that it was local officials, not the Obama administration, who lured the European manufacturer to the state.
“The truth is, Airbus came to Alabama despite the actions of the Administration,” Sessions said. “The hard work of state and local officials and the strong workforce in Alabama were the key to their decision.”