"Hi, everybody. How you doing?" Obama said as he emerged from Air Force One shortly after it touched down around 4:20 p.m. at the airport in Romulus.
Obama walked along a rope line, shaking hands, signing autographs and high-fiving the boy, who was waving an American flag. The president also gave Liz Hall, 54, of Ann Arbor, a kiss on the cheek.
"I'm never going to wash it," she said. "I'm so excited."
Obama's motorcade left about 10 minutes later for Dearborn, where Obama attended an evening event at the Henry Ford museum. About 600 people were expected at the Dearborn event. Tickets started at $250 per person.
Obama's reception was warm inside the museum, which pays homage to the area's storied automotive heritage. A couple hundred yards outside the building, about 100 people protested against the first-term Democrat.
"I am against what Obama is doing for the country, against the spending, against the deficit rising," said Lucille Fritz, a 70-year-old from Livonia, west of Detroit.
Fritz stood as close to the roadway as safety allowed holding aloft a sign that in the fewest of words described some of her feelings about the past three years under Obama's watch.
As cars passed by, Fritz raised the placard which displayed "Stop the spending" in block letters.
"We have to change the administration. We have to change the government. We have to change the policies," said Fritz, who said she is a member of the Rattle With Us Tea Party group. "We've been in meetings all winter long gearing up for this election to get people better informed."
The peaceful demonstration was organized by 100% Fed Up, a local group started four weeks ago by Patty McMurray and Leisa Audette, two local women who want to see someone other than Obama in the White House. Americans for Prosperity, a national conservative leaning organization, co-sponsored the event.
"We are sick and tired of all the divisiveness and failed economic policies," McMurray said.
While Michigan — which continues to see its unemployment rate dip — shows signs of economic revival, the Detroit area has yet to recover from an economic downturn that started under George W. Bush, Obama's predecessor.
Thousands of jobs have been lost. Many likely are never to return to the once-proud manufacturing city.
"It's about the issues and returning our country to economic prosperity," said Scott Hagerstrom, Michigan state director for Americans for Prosperity. "Michigan has been hit very hard. It's about good-paying jobs and quality of life. Right now, it's not good quality of life. There needs to be a change."
Obama's second scheduled appearance Wednesday was at the Bingham Farms home of Denise Ilitch, the daughter of Mike and Marian Ilitch, who own Little Caesar's Pizza, the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Tigers. Denise Ilitch hosted the event as a private citizen, and the fundraiser was not tied to the family's companies or sports teams.
According to the Obama campaign, about 47 people were expected for the Bingham Farms event. Tickets started at $10,000.
Obama last visited Michigan on Jan. 27 when he spoke about higher education funding at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.