By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers
Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally led his personal tea party to Washington today to kick off the annual Washington Auto Show as America's only major carmaker to ignore the federal bailout and survive.
"I am so pleased we haven't used the precious tax dollars," he said in an opening address attended by the media and some key lawmakers like Democratic Rep. John Dingell of Michigan. "So how's it going?" he added with a broad smile. "It's going really well."
A cheerful and smooth-talking former Boeing chief, Mulally was so artful in cheering his company's ability to skip the bailout money and survive, though with bigger debt than the others, that he had some of his fans in the audience whispering that he should run for office, maybe even for president.
Said one: "What company or executive represents better what the tea party stands for than him?"
For the record, he said that he is sticking with Ford and plans to continue pressuring Washington to fix the economy, draw up an energy plan, and approve trade deals that make it easier for U.S. manufacturers to sell abroad.
Asked about raising the gas tax to boost the sales of fuel-efficient cars, he dodged a bit but said they would have to be considered in a broad energy bill.
While at the car show's press day, Whispers walked around to take some pictures of the stars, the celebs, and the big green exhibit. One key feature is the General Motors and Chevy Colorado equipped with a donation box for those who want to support the Red Cross's effort in Haiti. "Many of us have been affected by the tragedy in Haiti," said Chevrolet General Manager Jim Campbell. "For those that want to help, we will gladly accept donations of any denomination. Every penny will make a difference."