DETROIT (AP) _ Auto workers took angry exception Wednesday to Republican presidential candidate Pat Robertson's claim that 25 percent of them use drugs on the job.

''People want to believe that autoworkers are ignorant, lazy and overpaid. But it just isn't so,'' said Vincent Franklin, a 24-year veteran at Ford Motor Co.'s Dearborn Assembly Plant.

John McMullen, a General Motors Corp. Cadillac Fleetwood Assembly Plant worker, said he objected to auto workers being lumped together.

''If that's the case, I can accuse him of being like Jim Bakker and having immoral relationships,'' McMullen said.

While campaigning Tuesday at the Michigan Capitol in Lansing, Robertson told reporters he thought autoworkers ''would appreciate a tough anti-drug program.

''If the auto workers want jobs, what they have to recognize is that one out of every four people on the assembly line, according to statistics I have, is using drugs. That's a 25 percent drop in productivity right there, possibly,'' he said.

Robertson said he was citing figures obtained two or three years ago from ''certain sources'' concerning ''industry in general,'' not auto workers in particular.

''I think it will probably lose him some votes,'' said Kyle Viers, who has worked at Chrysler's Corp.'s Jefferson Avenue Assembly Plant for 23 years.

''I call him a liar,'' said O.C. Richardson, a superintendent overseeing four Chrysler assembly lines and more than 500 workers. ''I've got some of the best people in the world in there.''

''If any UAW people were going to vote for him - most UAW people aren't Republicans - they won't now,'' said Angie Taulbee, 44, quality inspector at Ford's Wixom assembly plant.

But not all disagreed with Robertson's assertion.

Two workers at Chrysler's Jefferson Avenue facility said they had seen people drink and use drugs on the job. One said the percentage of workers using drugs was ''at least one in four.''

''I've seem them smoke it, I've seen them shoot it and everything else,'' said Tom McCann, a Chrysler dash panel assembler for 22 years. ''He should have said something about half the people being on alcohol.''

Ford Vice Chairman Harold Poling defended autoworkers at a news conference on Wednesday.

''I would be remiss if I didn't take strong exception to that position. There is no evidence that supports'' Robertson's statement,'' he said.

UAW President Owen Bieber, president of the 1.1 million member union, said ''Republicans ... just can't seem to hide their true anti-worker feelings.''

His reaction echoed one made Oct. 2, when Vice President George Bush praised Soviet tank mechanics, saying if they run out of work, ''send them to Detroit, because we could use that kind of ability.''

Bush later apologized, saying the remark was a joke that wasn't funny. During an Oct. 14 visit to Detroit, he accused Bieber of taking a ''cheap political shot'' for describing the remarks as ''foolish'' and demanding an apology.