President Bush, Big Three Automakers to Meet After November Election

President Bush and leaders of the Big Three automakers plan to meet after the November election to discuss the state of the U.S. auto industry, the White House said Tuesday.

The meeting between Bush and the heads of General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler AG had been tentatively scheduled for May, but was postponed when Bush traveled to Arizona to discuss border security. Attempts to reschedule the White House meeting have been unsuccessful.

"We've all agreed that it would be best to meet after the election," White House spokesman Alex Conant said. He said Bush was "committed to strengthening the competitiveness of American manufacturing. Our competitiveness and health care initiatives will create jobs in Detroit."

Plenty of people on both sides of the political aisle have pressed for a meeting between Bush and the automakers.

Earlier Tuesday, Gov. Jennifer Granholm and U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow — both Democrats — urged Bush to pencil in a meeting with the leaders of the domestic auto industry when he flies into the state for a fundraiser Friday for GOP U.S. Senate candidate Mike Bouchard. Dick DeVos, the Republican gubernatorial candidate in Michigan, also has pressed for the meeting.

It was the second letter Granholm had sent pushing for the meeting, which she said is needed to discuss pension and health care legacy costs, intellectual property thefts and renewable fuels. She sent an earlier letter in July.

Granholm was pleased by the plans for the meeting but said "we hope it's not a pre-election pacifier and that the White House is truly interested in helping the auto industry and the people in Michigan who depend on it," Granholm spokeswoman Liz Boyd said.

A GM spokesman declined to comment on the automakers' effort to meet with the White House. Messages seeking comment were left with Ford and DaimlerChrysler after business hours Tuesday.