WASHINGTON -- President Bush told Detroit's auto industry leaders yesterday he knows they are making "tough choices" to shore up their companies against foreign competition and promised continuing dialogue as they seek help on trade and healthcare issues.
"The president clearly understands the importance of the business to the United States and the global economy,"
Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and other administration officials met in the Oval Office for just over an hour with top executives of Ford, General Motors, and
The automakers later said the meeting was productive, hopeful that it would lead to more discussions with the administration.
"That's a door that we've been waiting to open," said Tom LaSorda, president and chief executive of DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group.
On Capitol Hill, lawmakers representing large numbers of auto workers said they hoped Congress would address reducing the cost of the healthcare on manufacturers, foster the research and development of alternative fuel vehicles, and promote fair trade practices.
"The industry's ability to compete in the global marketplace will determine its future. Rising healthcare and retirement costs as well as America's dependence on foreign sources of energy are negatively affecting industry strength," said Senator George Voinovich, an Ohio Republican.