Jan. 27 (Bloomberg) — Hillary Clinton praised General Motors Co. for naming Mary Barra the first female chief executive officer of a global automaker, saying the government made the "right decision" on the auto industry bailout.

"I'm excited about GM's new CEO — you might guess I would be," Clinton, a Democrat and former secretary of state, told an audience of about 4,000 people at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention in New Orleans. "I guess you could say she broke through the steel ceiling, not the glass ceiling."

Clinton's visit comes as U.S. auto sales are running at a pre-recession pace less than five years after federal bailouts. GM and Chrysler, after receiving aid under then-President George W. Bush, would ultimately undergo a bankruptcy reorganization after Barack Obama took office. Ford Motor Co., which avoided bankruptcy, had its own painful restructuring.

"They were the right decisions, that doesn't mean they were not without cost," Clinton said.

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