Presidential visit No. 3: Bush makes like Bono
President Bush sought – and gained – permission from Joel Toner, left, to start a Harley. Bush observed that Toner had a cool job. Toner said: “I agreed and said, ‘Yeah, I think I got one of the greatest jobs in the world.’”
Unlike his predecessors Reagan and Clinton, President George Bush got on the hawg during a visit on Aug. 16, 2006 to Harley-Davidson’s York plant.
Some bullet points about his visit:
Scene setter from York Daily Record: “At Harley-Davidson’s Springettsbury Township plant, George W. Bush might as well have been a rock star. Donning sunglasses similar to ones worn by U2 front man Bono, President Bush strutted into the motorcycle maker’s Softail plant Wednesday afternoon for a two-hour foray. He stopped to sign an autograph, frequently shook hands with workers and later straddled a shiny blue-and-white Softail Deluxe, revving the engine to workers’ screams and hollers.” …
Purpose for visit: Bush was in area to boast Lynn Swann’s gubernatorial campaign, and Harley was part of that visit.
Down to business: A roundtable discussion of Harley workers and execs included what government can do to help Harley-Davidson. One was opening foreign markets and the other was continuing research and development tax credits. Harley gets shut out of certain markets, Bush said, and it only makes sense that if there is demand for the company’s motorcycles, those markets should be opened. “It’s a direct correlation between exports and jobs,” Bush said. “In other words, the more Harleys that are sold in a place like Vietnam or China or India, the more likely that somebody’s going to be able to find work.”
Bush’s assessment: “I really enjoyed walking the floor and shaking hands with the people who work here. I’m impressed by the esprit de corps. I’m impressed by the fact that these people really enjoy what they’re doing. I’m impressed by the fact that they’re impressed by the product they make. I come away from this plant with a lot of very positive impressions, and it is a joy to be here.”
In the limelight: Joel Toner okayed that Bush mount the Softail Deluxe.
How it feels: “He actually asked me if he could sit on the bike, and I said, ‘Sure,’ and then I asked him if he wanted to start it. And then he started it and revved it up,” Toner said.
“He thanked me for my hospitality. . . . He said, ‘You must have a great job, riding motorcycles.’ I agreed and said, ‘Yeah, I think I got one of the greatest jobs in the world.’”