Presidential Call to Bill Ford

President Bush called embattled Ford Motor Co. leader Bill Ford on Friday during his flight to attend a fundraiser for a U.S. Senate candidate in Michigan.

The president placed the call from Air Force One to chat about changes the automaker is going through as Bill Ford gives up his duties as chief executive to former Boeing Co. executive Alan Mulally and takes other steps to turn around the company his great-grandfather founded.

"The two are friends," White House spokesman Alex Conant said Friday, adding that the pair spent several minutes on the phone.

Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm and other Michigan Democrats have been pushing for Bush to meet with Ford and the heads of General Motors Corp. and DaimlerChrysler AG during his trip. Republican gubernatorial challenger Dick DeVos also has called on Bush to sit down with the heads of the domestic Big Three.

The White House said on Tuesday that the meeting will take place, but not until after the Nov. 7 elections.

"The president reiterated that he's looking forward to meeting with the Big Three after the elections during his conversation with Ford,” Conant said.