Hillary Clinton selection to give speech to auto dealers draws industry criticism

NADA President Peter Welch said the selection of Clinton to keynote the auto dealer association's convention has drawn response from both sides of the political spectrum.

"We have received about a dozen messages from dealer members who are upset with our Convention Committee’s selection," Welch said in a statement. 

"Most of them disagree with Sen. Clinton’s political views. We have also received comments from members who like the selection; one even asked how he could obtain advance tickets."

Welch said the selection of Clinton to speak at the auto dealers convention did not constitute an endorsement of her political positions or any future campaign she might run.

"It’s important to note that NADA is a nonprofit, non-partisan, business trade association," he said. "NADA does not endorse presidential candidates or their views. Our job is to provide our members with exposure to all facets of business and government that can affect their dealerships."

When the selection of Clinton was first announced earlier this month, the chairman of NADA's convention planning committee said the former secretary of State was similar to other high-profile speakers that have addressed the auto dealer confab.

“NADA has a long history of inviting high profile speakers who have provided diverse perspectives on a wide range of issues,” NADA Convention Chairman Desmond Roberts, who owns a Chevrolet dealership in Hodgkins, Ill., said in a statement announcing the Clinton choice.

“We’ve hosted U.S. presidents from both parties as well as prime ministers and other dignitaries who have offered interesting insights and opinions,” Roberts continued.

Welch offered a similar perspective on Tuesday in response to the reported criticism of the Clinton choice to speak to the auto dealer association.

"Like her or not, Sen. Clinton is perhaps the most prominent American woman of modern times – a former first lady, U.S. Senator and secretary of State," Welch said. "NADA has a long history of inviting speakers from across the political spectrum. Many previous convention speakers, for example, presented views counter to Sen. Clinton. And undoubtedly her views will be counter-balanced by future speakers as well."