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Trump meeting with former Ford CEO Alan Mulally

Keith Laing
Detroit News Washington Bureau
Alan Mulally.

Washington — President-elect Donald Trump is meeting with former Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally on Thursday as he builds the cabinet for his incoming administration.

Fox News reported that Mulally is a candidate for secretary of state.

Danielle Hagen, a spokeswoman for Trump’s transition team, confirmed the meeting is on the president-elect’s schedule for Thursday. She declined to provide specifics about what Trump and Mulally would be discussing.

Mulally was CEO of Ford from September 2006 to June 2014. He is credited with leading the Dearborn automaker through a rocky period that saw Ford emerge as the only U.S.-based car company not to take a bailout from the federal government in 2008 and 2009.

Mulally was an executive at airplane manufacturer Boeing before he was recruited to take over Ford.

Trump had a rocky relationship with Ford during his successful presidential campaign, clashing with the company’s current Executive Chairman Bill Ford over whether the company is outsourcing jobs in a plan to move small-car production to Mexico.

Trump repeatedly assailed Ford during his campaign for the company’s investments in plants in Mexico, and for planning to move production of the Ford Focus and C-MAX from its Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne to Mexico. He slammed Ford’s decision to shift small car production to Mexico as a “disgrace,” and insinuated the company would “fire all of their employees in the United States” as it moves production of the unprofitable and small-profit-margin vehicles south of the border.

A week after the election, Trump in a late-night tweet indicated he had a hand in keeping Lincoln MKC production in Kentucky. That surprised many United Auto Workers officials and rank-and-file workers who did not know the compact crossover had been slated for Mexico.

Last week, ranking officials for Ford confirmed that Trump had “influenced” Ford’s decision to keep production of the Lincoln SUV in Louisville instead of moving it to Mexico.

The meeting with Mulally is not the first time Trump has turned to an auto executive for expertise. Last week he named General Motors Co. CEO Mary Barra to a Strategic and Policy Forum that frequently will advise him on economic issues and jobs growth.

The pool of potential candidates for secretary of state includes 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, former U.N. ambassador John Bolton, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker and former CIA Director David Petraeus.

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Twitter: @Keith_Laing