WASHINGTON — President Obama said in an interview broadcast Thursday that the government will recover taxpayer money spent to bail out the auto industry and that the nation still hasn’t fully dealt with racial tensions.

The president, who appeared on the ABC program “The View,” said the auto industry “tells a good story” of how the United States has recovered from the worst recession since the 1930s, he said. In exchange for U.S. bailout money, the industry has been restructured, and “you now have all those auto companies showing a profit.

“They’ve re-hired 55,000 workers,” he said. “We are going to get all the money back that we invested.” The president is scheduled to visit General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group auto plants in Michigan today.

Obama appeared on a program aimed largely at college-educated women, a group Democrats are targeting in November’s congressional elections. “The View” is the No. 2 daily talk show, behind “The Oprah Show,” with 3.7 million viewers, and is first in its time period with women aged 18-49, said Karl T. Nilsson, an ABC spokesman, citing Nielsen Media Research.

Obama, the first black president, was asked whether race is still a major issue in America.

“Of course there’s still tensions out there, there’s still inequalities out there, there’s still discrimination out there, but we’ve made progress,” he said.

He cited the episode with Shirley Sherrod, the Agriculture Department official fired by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack after a clip from a speech showed her telling an anecdote suggesting she acted with bias in dealing with a white farmer 24 years ago. She was offered the chance to return when a review of her full remarks showed the video was selectivity edited.

Obama defended the $862 billion stimulus package, even as he was reminded that his administration said unemployment wouldn’t rise above 8 percent. The unemployment rate was 9.5 percent in June.

“It makes a difference, though, if your job was one of the ones that was saved,” he said. He said the stimulus spending averted thousands of teacher, police and firefighter layoffs.

Obama also said a vacation in Maine was the highlight of the past month.

“In the last month the rose has to be a couple of days we took in Maine with Michelle, Sasha and Malia. We went on bike rides and hikes . . .

“The girls,” he said, “are getting old enough now where they’re not quite teenagers yet, so they still like you, but they’re full of opinions, ideas and observations and it’s just a great age. Malia just turned 12 and Sasha just turned 9, and it couldn’t have been a better couple of days.”