President Donald Trump publicly chastised General Motors CEO Mary Barra on Monday over her decision to close four plants in the US because of sagging demand for sedans.
The President, speaking to reporters on his way to a pair of campaign stops in Mississippi, said he’d talked to Barra about the closures, which will also hit a fifth North American plant in Canada.
“I was very tough. I spoke with her when I heard they were closing and I said, you know, this country has done a lot for General Motors,” Trump said, referring to the federal bailout of the company after the 2008 financial crash.
He later repeated: “You know, the United States saved General Motors, and for her to take that company out of Ohio is not good.”
A White House official said that Trump had spoken with Barra on Sunday, before the closures were publicly announced. Barra was at the White House on Monday for a previously scheduled meeting with economic adviser Larry Kudlow as Trump was speaking on the South Lawn, the White House official said.
Trump, who made the revival of American manufacturing a centerpiece of his 2016 campaign, has a track record of publicly criticizing companies that seek to shut down or move production abroad, including furnace maker Carrier.
GM announced Monday morning that it would shut operations at plants in Detroit; Oshawa, Ontario; Warren, Ohio; White Marsh, Maryland; and Warren, Michigan. The plants made sedans that have waned in popularity, including the Chevrolet Volt, Impala and Cruze, the Buick LaCrosse and the Cadillac CT6 and XTS. GM said it will no longer make those cars.
Two of the plants made engines and parts for those cars. The facilities made some trucks, but those trucks are also made in Mexico.
The company also said it would close three plants outside North America by the end of next year. One of those closures, in South Korea, had been previously announced.
Trump said he told Barra she had “better” reopen plants in the US soon.
“We have a lot of pressure on them. You have senators and a lot of other people, a lot of pressure,” the President said.
He said the company should find a car that sells better than the Chevy Cruze.
“I think you’re going to see something else happen there, but I’m not happy about it,” Trump said. “Their car is not selling well. So they’ll put something else — I have no doubt that, in a not-too-distant future, they’ll put something else. They better put something else in.”