Photo of Donald Trump

Remarks in an Exchange With Reporters During a Tour of the Ford Motor Company Rawsonville Components Plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan

May 21, 2020

The President. Hello, everybody. Hi.

Q. Mr. President, do you have a minute?

The President. Yes.

Q. So my question to you is this: Thanks to all of the work of manufacturers like Ford and other——

The President. Who are you with?

Q. I'm Carol Cain with CBS in Detroit and Detroit Free Press.

The President. Good. Good. Very good.

Medical Supplies and Equipment/U.S. Export of Ventilators

Q. Welcome to Detroit.

My question to you is this: Because of all of the ventilators being made here at Ford and the heroic effort of all the manufacturers there doing the same sort of thing, we now know we have enough manufacturing going on for the time being, as far the ventilator goes. You've said you think we have enough; in fact, we can share with other countries.

My question to you, sir, is, looking 6 months from now, a year from now, how many more—how much do we need to keep back in our stockpile to keep us safe?

The President. You know, we were just talking about it. We have a very big stockpile right now. And we're building it bigger and we're helping a lot of other countries. Nigeria—we just sent a thousand. We have various—various countries: France, Spain. We have a lot going to Italy. We have a lot going to a different—probably 15, 18 countries. They're calling us. We had the capacity to do this; nobody else did.

So every State now has more than they need, and our stockpile is totally full. We have a tremendous amount. So now we're really helping other countries where they're, you know, losing a lot of people because they don't have ventilators. A ventilator is hard to do.

And I want to say that Ford and General Electric have done an incredible job working together and also the companies that worked with you. They really did; they did a great job. They do a great car and they do—they really did a great job on the ventilators. And I hear the quality of the ventilator has been really top of the line.

Ford Motor Company Executive Chairman William C. Ford, Jr. Thank you.

The President. We really appreciate it, fellas.

Mr. Ford. Thank you, sir.

Protective Face Masks

Q. Mr. President, there was a lot of interest about whether you would end up wearing a mask today.

The President. Yes. Q. Could you just take us through your thought process of why you decided not to wear a mask?

The President. Well, I did wear—I had one on before. I wore one in this back area, but I didn't want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it. But no, where I had it, in the back area, I did put a mask on.

Q. Did you have the goggles on too, as well, sir?

The President. I did. I had goggles. Goggles and a mask. Right back there.

Protective Face Masks

Q. But why would you not——

The President. And here's another one. Here.

[At this point, the President handed a reporter a face shield.]

Q. Why would you not be wearing it here?

The President. Because in this area—you take it.

Q. Why would you not be wearing it here, sir?

The President. Not necessary here. Everybody has been tested, and I've been tested. In fact, I was tested this morning, so it's not necessary.

Q. Okay. But the executives are wearing them.

Q. When were you——

The President. Well, that's their choice. I was given a choice. And I had one in an area where they preferred it, so I put it on, and it was very nice. It looked very nice. But they said: Not necessary here.

Yes, please.

Protective Face Masks

Q. What about the example that it would set for other——

The President. Well, I think it sets an example.

Q. ——Americans to see you wearing a mask?

The President. I think it sets an example both ways. And, as they say, I did have it on. Thank you.

Yes, please.

Q. Mr. President, what do you think—[inaudible].

The President. I just liked your question so much.

Q. I know. [Laughter]

The President. You know what? It was such a nice question.

Q. No, it was a great question. Here's a question for you. So you've seen—

The President. See? I'll take an extra question.

Q. There you go.

The President. Go ahead. Manufacturing Industry/Medical Supplies and Equipment

Q. We've seen the manufacturers here—Ford, GM, FCA——

The President. Yes.

Q. ——others, small businesses—turning things overnight and making PPE materials. As someone who is the President of the United States, in terms of our manufacturing might, how do you see what's taken place in these last few months?

The President. This is the biggest mobilization since the World War—since World War II. And these people were in charge of it. They did it. They did a fantastic job. They did a really fantastic job, and we appreciate it.

All of these companies, they came together. And they used to make cars here. They used to make other things here. And now they're—not only the ventilators, we were just saying—the masks and all of the other product. What other product do you make? This is the head of Ford, by the way. Not bad. Not a bad position.

Mr. Ford. [Laughter] Well, thank you. So we've got——

The President. You know, she's a very nice woman.

Mr. Ford. I know. Hi, Carol. How are you?

Q. Hi, Bill. How you doing?

Mr. Ford. Well, you know what we're making. We've got the pressure respirators. We've—obviously, the ventilators, the masks, the gowns. You know, we've—really, anything that anybody needs. We responded quickly, and we're very proud of our workforce. They've been amazing.

The President. Is he doing a good job? [Laughter]

Protective Face Masks

Q. He is. In fact, Bill, you have been through so many crises through your years as chairman and CEO of the company here. How does this crisis—dealing with this pandemic, making PPE materials—compare?

Mr. Ford. Well, everyone is different. I mean, you know, I won't take you through all of them going all the way back to, you know, maybe the oil shocks and then the—you know, the dotcom meltdowns and all those. Every crisis is different, but what's amazing is how our people respond.

And, in this one, they didn't want to be asked to do something. They said, "Here's an opportunity, and let's go." What I love about our culture is, they didn't ask for permission, they just went. And that's something that we've done throughout our 117-year history, and I hope we'll always do.

Q. Mr. President——

Q. Mr. Ford, may we ask another question?

The President. And by the way, here is my—here is my mask, right here.

Mr. Ford. [Inaudible] He's working on—[inaudible]—now.

The President. And I like it very much.

Q. Can you put that—can you put that—— The President. I actually—honestly, I think I looked better in the mask. I really did. [Laughter] I look better in the mask.

Q. Can we see it, Mr. President?

Q. But I'm making a—but I'm making a speech, so I won't have it now. But I did have it on right here, and I think some of you might've gotten a shot.

Thank you very much.

Q. Mr. Ford, can you confirm that the President was told it's okay not to wear one in this area?

Mr. Ford. It's up to him.

[The President resumed the tour.]

The President. So what—how many will you make a week, ventilators?

Ford Motor Co. Vice President for Enterprise Product Line Management Jim Baumbick. Ventilators, we're ramping up to 6,000 a week.

The President. So, folks, it's 6,000 ventilators a week—think of that—from a running start, which wasn't much of a run, actually. So we had very few in this country, almost none. We were not in that business. And now they're making thousands a week. It's a great thing.

Mr. Baumbick. Thank you.

The President. And what about this?

Mr. Baumbick. So we built 32,000 of these already.

The President. Wow.

Mr. Baumbick. So we have the ability to build 12,000 a week.

The President. Is that foolproof, would you say?

Mr. Baumbick. So basically, this is the maximum protection for an eye cover.

The President. Maximum?

Mr. Baumbick. Maximum. It basically blows filtered air—it filters out the virus—over— here—over the occupant's face. So if they're in a large ICU ward or they're in one of these makeshift ICU wards where there's a lot of the virus that could be in the air, this would give them maximum protection.

The President. We've got to get back to the rallies. Do you agree with that, John [John Roberts, Fox News]?

Q. One question, Mr. President?

The President. We've got to have the rallies.


Further Economic Stimulus Legislation/Economic Recovery Efforts/Border Security

Q. One question. The Secretary of the Treasury said there is a strong likelihood that we'll need another fiscal stimulus. To your thinking, what shape would that take?

The President. I think we will. I think we're going to be helping people out. We're going to be getting some money for them during the artificial—because it really is, it's an artificial closure. And now we're going to be able to open it up. This isn't like for long-term problems and it takes years and years to have it come back. The Depression took 12 years—more—14, 15 years. We're going to be back next year, maybe even in the fourth quarter. In a few months, we're going to be back, because we're going to—we closed it, and now we open it.

But I would say there could be one more nice shot. One more nice dose.

Q. And what do you think should be in it, sir?

The President. Well, I'd let you know. And I have exactly—I know exactly, but I'd rather do it at the appropriate time.

Q. We know a payroll tax cut——

The President. Today we're here celebrating these great companies doing ventilators and other equipment.

But we have a very, very specific plan, and it will be great for the American people. And our economy is going to be back soon, and Ford and General Electric and these great companies that helped us so much in a time of need, they're going to be very happy. They're going to be—and you're already gearing up. I know you're gearing up. Your lines are starting to roll, making cars again. So a lot of things that are happening.

By the way, on our southern border, it's never been so secure. We're up to almost 200 miles of wall. And we have never had—that whole area is—nobody comes through that area. The area where the wall goes up, that's the end of that.

Resumption of Presidential Campaign Rallies

Q. And so you're having this speech here this afternoon. What are you thinking about in terms of the campaign rallies? When will you be able to get back to big rallies?

The President. So as soon as you're able to have people get in—you know, we've never had an empty seat. Since the day I came down the escalator with our future First Lady, we've never had an empty seat. You know that. And we'd have thousands of people we sent away.

And I think the demand now, from what we see, is greater than ever before. We're going to have to go to certain States where we're able to—look, I don't want to have a stadium where you're supposed to have a person and then seven empty seats and then another person. So we might do some outdoor big ones. And we may also just wait until the stadiums can open up. I think it's going to be soon. We'll go to a place like Florida. We'll go to a place like maybe Georgia or some other place where they're going to be opening up. Whoever it opens up first.

The demand has been incredible to get going with the rallies. I just hear the music in the background. I'm saying, we've had rallies like nobody has ever had, and we would love to get back to that. I think it's going to be sooner rather than later.

Coronavirus Vaccine and Treatment Development

Q. And I know you were asked about this briefly this morning: This new AstraZeneca vaccine——

The President. Yes.

Q. ——from Oxford that——

The President. Great.

Q. ——that HHS is investing $1 billion in, how much promise do you think that holds for an early vaccination program? The President. I think it holds tremendous promise. But we have many other companies who are just about as far along. We have many companies. We have the greatest pharmaceutical companies in the world. They're equally—you know, I mean, they're really in a position. And I'm only—I'm not only talking about vaccine, I'm talking about cures and therapeutics. Therapeutically, we have some things coming out which we think are going to be great. But they have to be tested quickly——

Q. Who would——

The President. ——and we're doing it very quickly.

Q. Who would get the vaccine first? First responders? Elderly people?

The President. Right now what we're doing is, we're setting—logistically, with our military, our military is in gear so that we can give 150, 200 million shots quickly. The military is in gear. You know, we can move a couple of hundred thousand soldiers immediately in time of emergency. So this is not nearly as big a deal as that. It's equally as important perhaps, but it's not as tough logistically.

Q. But how would you prioritize it?

The President. I'll sit down with a lot of people, and we'll figure it out. We're going to sit down with the military. And we hope to be in that position fairly soon.

So rather than having the vaccine, doing the test, and then starting to gear up, we're taking a risk, because you know, it could be that if something happened, but I don't think that's going to be. But in addition to that company, we have other companies that are very far advanced. And also, don't forget therapeutics and cure. We're talking about a vaccine in this case. Therapeutics and cure. I mean, frankly, that's my first choice because that would take care of people that are in trouble right now.


Q. Mr. President——

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Medical Supplies and Equipment

Q. Mr. President, on the issue of testing, there's been questions about whether you're satisfied or not with what the CDC is doing, the work they're doing, particularly the Director, Dr. Redfield. Can you address that? Are you satisfied with the work the CDC is doing?

The President. I think they're doing a good job, a really good job in a very complex situation. You know, we started off, nobody knew what the virus was. It came in from China, and nobody knew what it was. And frankly, I think they've done a really good job. I'm very happy about it. A lot of other people think they've done a lot of, you know, great work.

We're now up to—and this is beyond even CDC, because we've done it—between Jared Kushner and a lot of geniuses coming in from Silicon Valley, and a lot of people—these companies, where they can make ventilators and all—look, what we did with ventilators is incredible because we geared up, in a short period of time, through General Electric, Ford—they're represented here at the top level—through other companies.

We were at Honeywell the other day; they make masks. Who would think Honeywell is making a mask? But that's what they're making now, is a mask. It's a very high-tech company. You know, they make the—the dashboards to an airplane and lots of other things. And now they're making masks. Our companies geared up so quickly, so fast. Honeywell opened a plant in 3 weeks, from literally zero to open, making masks in 3 weeks. That's—it's been an incredible achievement. There's never been anything done like this since the end of World War II.

Resumption of Economic and Commercial Activity/Federal Coronavirus Response

Q. You said a number of weeks ago, "We can't let the cure become worse than the disease."

The President. That's true.

Q. Where are we in that calculus?

The President. I think I was the first one to say it. I don't know, would you say that I was the first one? But you can't let the cure become worse than the problem itself.

Q. And where are we?

The President. I think we have to—I think the Governors have to start opening up. We now know the disease. We know the weaknesses and the strengths. We know that older people are affected gravely and younger people are not affected gravely, frankly. You look at the statistics, it's incredible. And we know that we have to protect some people much more so. I think a lot of the Governors have done a very, very poor job on nursing homes, but they've done a good job on other things.

I know every Governor. I can give you—I can grade every Governor. But we've made a lot of hero Governors. We've done a great job for the Governors. And my relationship with them, in almost all cases, is very good.

And remember this—one of the beauties we were just talking about: Not one person who needed a ventilator didn't get a ventilator.

Q. But with another 2.4 million people claiming first-time unemployment insurance benefits today——

The President. Yes.

Q. ——how close are we to the cure being worse than the disease?

The President. I think that a lot of these States are going to—the ones that are, sort of, sticking to a certain, very rigid pattern, I think they're going to stop. I don't think the people are going to stand for it. This is a country that's meant to be open, not closed.

And we did the right thing, John. We saved millions of lives, millions and millions of lives. You would have had anywhere from a million-five to 2 million-five, 3 million lives. Think of it: So if we were at 100,000, instead of 100,000, multiply that times 15, 20, or 25. It wouldn't have been acceptable. It wouldn't have been sustainable. You couldn't have done it.

So we've called it right. And now I want it open, and we're going to open. And if there's a fire, an ember, a flame someplace, we put it out. But the people have done a great job. And General Electric, Ford, and all the other people that work with them have done fantastic work.

And Honeywell—again, I was there last week—but Honeywell, they've done fantastically well, also. Okay?

Thank you very much.

Federal Preparedness for Potential Future Coronavirus Outbreaks

Q. Mr. President, you mentioned the embers. Are you concerned these smaller fires, these pockets of the virus popping up, are you concerned about a potential second wave of this virus? The President. People say that's a very distinct possibility. It's standard. And we're going to put out the fires. We're not going to close the country; we're going to put out the fires. There could be—whether it's an ember or a flame, we're going to put it out. But we're not closing our country.

Thank you very much.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert R. Redfield

Q. Are you looking to replace Dr. Redfield? Or is his job safe?

The President. No.

[The President resumed the tour.]

NOTE: The President spoke at 4:12 p.m. In his remarks, he referred to White House Senior Adviser Jared C. Kushner.

Donald J. Trump, Remarks in an Exchange With Reporters During a Tour of the Ford Motor Company Rawsonville Components Plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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