Ford Offers Trump Old News on Bronco Jobs as an Applause Line

(Bloomberg) -- When Ford Motor Co.’s Jim Hackett greeted Donald Trump at one of the automaker’s factories Thursday, the chief executive officer quickly offered the president a positive headline.

“I’ve got some news for you that you can use today,” Hackett told Trump. He and Executive Chairman Bill Ford said the company will have 2,000 people work on the Bronco sport-utility vehicle at a plant in southeast Michigan.

Neither nugget of information was new. Ford confirmed where it would build Bronco three years ago, and it announced the thousands of jobs it planned to add at the facility in December. But it was music to Trump’s ears, nonetheless.

“That’s fantastic,” Trump replied before taking the stage to deliver prepared remarks. “Let’s mention that.”

Ford Offers Trump Old News on Bronco Jobs as an Applause Line

It was a telling exchange between a manufacturer that has been struggling and a president who has given its executives grief since his 2016 campaign. Hackett, 65, was already having difficulty engineering an $11 billion restructuring before the coronavirus pandemic forced Ford to halt production around the globe. He and Bill Ford, 63, have differed with Trump on matters ranging from investing in Mexico to immigration and environmental policy.

“We’ve spoken many times over the years,” Ford said as he introduced the president. “While we don’t always agree on every issue, he has always considered our opinion.”

‘Big Winner’

Trump delivered the applause line Hackett gave him soon after he began speaking behind the podium at Ford’s ventilator-making facility in Ypsilanti, less than 40 miles southwest of Detroit.

“I just heard you’re going to be having 2,000 more jobs right down the road for the Bronco,” Trump said. He called the Bronco -- which isn’t yet for sale -- a “big winner” and “great success.”

Trump criticized Ford four years ago for its plans to build a car factory in Mexico. Soon after winning his plaudits by pulling the plug on the plant, Ford was the first automaker in Detroit to distance itself from the administration’s 2017 order that sought to ban immigrants from majority-Muslim countries.

More recently, Ford was among the automakers the Justice Department probed over a fuel economy pact with California. Trump, who is softening federal rules and trying to revoke that state’s authority to set its own standards, called executives who oppose his efforts “foolish.” The Justice Department closed its investigation in February.

The Positives

Bill Ford chose to focus on the highlights of the company’s relations with the administration during his introduction.

“He supported tax cuts, which have helped move the economy forward, and we deeply appreciate his work leading a new trade treaty with Mexico and Canada,” Ford said of Trump. “And there is no doubt that we share a passionate view that building in America is the right thing to do for our workers, the economy and the future of this country.”

Trump then brought up another issue the two sides agreed on: the president’s decision during his first week in office to withdraw the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the trade deal the Obama administration brokered with Asia-Pacific countries.

“I don’t know, I didn’t ever ask you about that, Bill. I mean, I think you agree?” Trump said to Ford, who apparently nodded yes.

“Oh you do,” Trump responded. “Would you please stand up and just nod that you agree? Your industry, Bill, would have been destroyed had that deal gone through -- and not only yours, by the way. But other countries would have been very happy.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.