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A few reflections on Barack Obama's first Elkhart visit

As Elkhart prepares for one more appearance by President Barack Obama, his first visit to the city as an Illinois senator running for the Democratic presidential nomination against Hillary Clinton reveals what has and hasn't changed.

Two days before the Indiana Primary Election, Obama visited Bank Street, talking with residents and shooting some hoops with kids outside Riverview Elementary School before he spoke with me by phone.

Gas prices at this time hovered around $4.50 per gallon. Two months later, Monaco Coach would shutter its Elkhart and Wakarusa plants due to sluggish RV sales and the Great Recession was under way. Chinese currency manipulation was an issue then, as it remains today. McCain and Feingold were the names associated with campaign finance reform two years before the words "Citizens United" would become synonymous with its undoing by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Eight years later, area politicians and business leaders debate whether President Obama can claim credit for Elkhart's recovery or if it was all private sector investment and hard work that brought the RV industry back from the brink. The only thing that is certain as we look back at May 2008 is that the future remains uncertain.

Tony has become WVPEs program director, after working as operations manager since 2014. He also produces Michiana Chronicles and works on other special programming and digital projects. He joined the station as All Things Considered host in 1997, hosted Morning Edition in 2000 and 2001, then returned to the ATC host chair from 2007 to 2016. One of his Morning Edition newscasts earned WVPE a Best Radio Newscast Award from the Associated Press in 2002. An Iowa native, Tony got his start in radio as a student at Eastern Mennonite University (EMU), Harrisonburg, Va., and managed the radio station there for three years after graduating. He also worked in commercial and Christian radio prior to his time at WVPE. Tony lives in Goshen.