Presidential visit No. 2: Clinton hugs Harley
A hug to remember: Bobby Ramsey, chief shop steward for Harley-Davidson’s York plant, embraces President Clinton after introducing him. Clinton spoke before more than 2,000 employees.
President Bill Clinton enjoyed what amounted to a pep rally during his November 1999 visit to York’s Harley-Davidson plant.
Some bullet points from his visit, attended by 2,000 employees: …
Date: Nov. 10, 1999, during Clinton’s second term.
An ironic twist: Political analyst Terry Madonna contrasted two presidential visits: In 1987, Ronald Reagan, a Republican free trader, visited and spoke on how well Harley resurged under protective tariffs. In 1999, Clinton, a Democrat, visited and paid tribute to the company’s success in free trade.
Clinton, Reagan compared: York Daily Record: “Still, Clinton’s day of handshakes and hugs at Harley – compared with Reagan’s fatherly and aloof appearance – solidified his place as a working man’s baby boomer president.”
Missed quirky moment: President Clinton did not get on a hawg, contrary to a Jay Leno joke that placed him there. He portrayed Clinton on a bike to construct a Monica Lewinsky joke. Madonna conjectured that serious-minded Clinton was attempting to distance himself from the image created by the Lewinsky scandal.
Comment about Clinton: Joe Hoelter of Harley stated: “I think the president and the secretary had a fantastic time. You could just tell from the smile on his face.”
Comment by Clinton 1: “I want people to see that you have, yes, turned a company around. Yes, you make an exciting product and you sell it all around the world, but that you do it in the right way, a way that makes you proud to come to work every day. It puts a spring in your step and a shout in your voice, and a light in your eyes. That is what I want for every American working family, and I hope that more people will follow your lead so that more people can stand up and shout every day just for the joy of going to work and being part of a common enterprise and doing something they can be profoundly proud of. Thank you, thank you, thank you for that example.”
Comment by Clinton 2: “My best Harley story – I was just recently in Paris on my way to Sarajevo and Bosnia to try to settle the outstanding issues of all the Balkan wars in Bosnia and Kosovo. So I stopped in France to have a meeting with the president of France, and I went to the American ambassador’s residence in Paris. Now, if you ever saw that house, you’d want to be ambassador to France, too. It’s a beautiful place, built in the 1700s – just takes your breath away to walk in, these grand gardens and this beautiful marble foyer when you walk in. In the beautiful marble foyer when you walk in now, replete with all the proper lighting, is a stunning, 1944 Harley-Davidson.”
Before entering a conference room for this roundtable discussion, Clinton donned a Harley jacket and stated, “ ‘Y’all don’t mind if I wear your jacket? It’s cool in here.’ ”