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A Republican Who Likes Detroit?

California governor backs federal aid for automakers.

by on Apr.20, 2009

The "Governator" declares Detroit "will be back" during appearance at 2009 SAE World Congress, in Detroit.  Photo Credit: Len Katz

The "Governator" declares Detroit "will be back" during an appearance at the 2009 SAE World Congress in Detroit. Photo Credit: Len Katz

California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger opened the annual Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress in Detroit on Monday morning with a rousing endorsement of the American car industry.

Schwarzenegger, who has been a frequent critic of Detroit’s carmakers over the years, also stressed the federal government should definitely step in to help the American carmakers. He also offered to do a commercial, for free, touting American carmakers once they are on the road to recovery.

“Detroit is going to be back and Detroit is a leading force in the car industry and worldwide,” Schwarzenegger said as he opened the SAE’s annual convention in Detroit.

“Right now, they are going through some painful times. For anyone who says, ‘Leave them here, don’t help them’ is a huge amount of nonsense talk because of the fact of the matter is we all need to help Detroit,” he said.

“The government should provide money to help the automakers in research and development, but it also can no longer can keep changing their policies,” Schwarzenegger said. “We need a vision for energy, a vision for our cars, a vision for greenhouse gases and a vision for tailpipe emissions. In all this time we have not had those visions.”

“I do want to help the auto industry get back on its feet and I do want to do my share,” said Schwarzenegger, who said he was a fan of Detroit’s carmakers. He believes carmakers can overcome their current difficulties, adding that he most definitely favored the decision to offer Detroit financial assistance.

However, the governor also reserved the right to criticize the carmakers – which he has done repeatedly, including some harsh comments made just last weekend.  Much of his criticism has concerned the need for speeding up the move towards green technology, and during his Detroit appearance, Schwarzenegger said he was delighted to see automakers move toward developing new alternative technologies, including battery-electric vehicles, hydrogen-fueled cars and hybrids. “They’re really not that far behind,” he said. (more…)