President Joe Biden traveled to Michigan on Tuesday to drum up support for his plans to reorient the American economy toward a greener future, and to lavish praise on Ford Motor Co. as it shows off an electric version of its signature pickup truck slated for next year.
“We’re at a great inflection point in American history,” Biden said in Dearborn after touring Ford’s electric vehicle production facility. “How we handle the next four to 10 years is going to determine where we are going to be 30, 40, 50 years from now. It’s one of those moments in American history.”
Biden’s visit was timed to Ford’s official rollout of its Lightning truck later this week, and the president was eager to put his gearhead persona on full display.
“My name is Joe Biden, and I’m a car guy,” he exclaimed at the start of his remarks.
During his speech Biden joked about taking the electric truck for a spin without his security detail, and also reminisced about his fondness for the Ford Fairlane, a model that was discontinued during the Nixon administration.
The idea of an all-electric pickup is a bit of a gamble given trucks’ decadeslong popularity among consumers and the degree to which they’re embedded in American culture, particularly in conservative-leaning enclaves.
But automakers in recent years have been stepping up their investment in electric vehicles as the technology improves and they begin to move out of niche status in the public perception.
“The future of the auto industry is electric — there’s no turning back,” Biden said. “The real question is whether we will lead or we’ll fall behind in the race for the future.”
Biden’s road show was overshadowed somewhat by the continued hostilities between Israel and the Palestinians, a conflict that has billowed for weeks before escalating in recent days.
At least 200 Palestinians have been killed during the clash, including dozens of children and many other civilians. Hamas and other militants in Gaza have directed thousands of rockets at Israel, though the Israeli death count is substantially lower because of its advanced missile defense system.
The president has tried to deescalate the situation while juggling domestic political pressure from both Republicans and Democrats to take sides as the White House’s calls for a cease-fire have gone unheeded.
The situation was not far from the stage during Tuesday’s event.
Among those in attendance was Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), one of the first Muslim women ever elected to Congress and who has pushed the Biden administration to take a firmer stance toward Israel over its use of force amid the unrest.
Tlaib has family living in the region, and Biden said he was keeping them in his prayers.
“I admire your intellect and passion and concern for so many other people,” Biden said. “You are a fighter, and God thank you for being a fighter.”
Biden also spoke to Tlaib as he arrived in Michigan, though after the president’s speech she declined a reporter’s inquiry about what the two discussed.
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