NEW ORLEANS — The nation’s auto dealers are critical to the recovery and ongoing economic health of the United States, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told those gathered at the National Automobile Dealers Association Convention & Expo Monday in New Orleans.
“Building and selling cars helped create the American middle class,” said Clinton. “The resurgence of the auto industry over the past few years has been a driving force behind our recovery. And you, the auto dealers of America, continue to play a vital role in communities all across our country.”
The crowd gave Clinton a standing ovation and then listened intently as she mentioned various NADA leaders, including personal friends Jack Caldwell, an NADA board member representing Arkansas, and Thomas “Mack” McLarty III, chairman of the Arkansas-based McLarty Companies, which owns 11 auto dealerships in five states.
Clinton also answered questions about her support of the automaker bailout as a senator representing New York State, her professional regrets about the 2012 Benghazi attacks and why she chose to accept the Secretary of State post after waging a fierce Presidential campaign against Barrack Obama (“We both love our country”).
But the auto dealers were especially engaged as she discussed her support of small business in general, specifically dealerships.
“The resurgence of the auto industry over the past few years has been a driving force behind our recovery,” she said. “And you, the auto dealers of America, continue to play a vital role in communities all across our country."
Calling herself an optimist who believes America’s greatest days are ahead of it, she called on the country’s leaders to move beyond their differences and to work together for the good of the country as it did after World War II and as the auto industry now does.
"The auto business has come through some tough times — and dealers bore a big part of the burden — but you’re showing us all that there’s light at the end of the tunnel,” she said. “That there is no challenge too big or too hard when Americans work together.”
Used-vehicle values fell by an average of 1.9% in October, the largest decline since January but on course with seasonal patterns, according to the latest report from Black Book.