Retail Front

NADA Chairman Rates Hillary’s Speech


Critics claimed Clinton had no business speaking to dealers.

The way some people had been carping in the past months, I almost expected to see audience members throwing rotten tomatoes at Hillary Clinton during her keynote speech at the National Automobile Dealers Assn. convention.

Critics had turned red when the trade group announced the former First Lady, U.S. Senator and Secretary of State would address its annual convention in New Orleans.

At an earlier auto-financing conference, an attendee jumped on 2013 NADA Chairman David Westcott about Clinton’s impending convention appearance.

“This speaker is running for president,” the detractor said of Clinton, even though she hasn’t actually announced her candidacy. (More on that in a moment.)

Other Clinton critics predicted NADA conventioneers, who lean Republican, would: a) boycott the Democrat’s speech, b) attend but walk out, or c) show up and sit on their hands.

Instead, she got a standing ovation before and after her address. There are a couple of reasons for that.

First, the warm reception had to do with the nature of most dealers. They’re typically polite people. This time was no different. I didn’t see a tomato, ripe or rotten, in the house.

Second, Clinton gave a good speech. She hit high notes. She connected with her audience, noting husband Bill had a dealer uncle and Bill’s best boyhood friend, Mack McLarty who served as his White House Chief of Staff, now runs a 25-store dealership group based in Little Rock, AK.

Clinton also did a shout out to Mark Schienberg, president of the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Assn. “When I had the privilege of representing New York in the Senate I got to know a lot of dealers from our state,” she told the NADA gathering.

Schienberg speaks highly of her. He tells me she particularly supported his association’s Center for Automotive Education and Training, a facility that prepares people for dealership career work.

New NADA Chairman Forrest McConnell III gave Clinton straight As for her convention appearance.

“She was phenomenal,” he tells me. “She was engaging, and the audience felt that. She tailored the speech to a dealer audience.”

McConnell did a top-rate job himself in delivering his convention inauguration. He admires certain motivational speakers and tried to emulate them.

“I’m not scared of crowds, so it was fun,” he says. “Since I was 14, I always loved speeches.”

In an NADA first, his speech featured a liberal use of videos on big screens behind him. “I’m a visual person and wanted to use multimedia that grabs people’s attention,” he says. “In public speaking, you should think about what would interest you if you were in the audience.”

Interspersed throughout McConnell’s address were videos that include runners and skydivers. McConnell is a long-distance runner. He’s also tried skydiving. Recalling his first jump, he says: “The parachute didn’t fully deploy immediately. I didn’t panic but I thought, ‘Man I knew this could happen, but did it have to happen the first time?’”

I compliment him on his NADA speech. He credits Team NADA for helping him out. He thanks Westcott and another former NADA chairman, Ed Tonkin, for their advice.

“Ed said, ‘It’s your speech, but you might want to break it down into specific categories,” McConnell says. “I didn’t want to follow Hillary Clinton and be bad in front of a packed crowd.”

One thing irked me about Clinton’s appearance. In a post-speech Q&A on stage with Westcott, he asked her about her potential presidential bid. She replied: “I’m not thinking about it. I try to get others not to think about it.”

Oh please. No one expected her to throw her hat in the ring at the NADA convention. But to say she’s not even thinking about it? Yeah, right. That’s like a skydiver in a plane saying he’s not thinking about jumping out of it soon.

If Hillary Clinton doesn’t end up running for president, I’ll eat a rotten tomato.

Discuss this Blog Entry 7

on Feb 10, 2014


It is all over RW blogs that Hillary received $250K for her speech. Any first hand knowledge of this? I rate it at the top of my BS list. They seem to be piqued that Hillary was treated politely by auto dealers, as if auto dealers would be polite to someone on record from the RW as saying the North American auto industry should have been allowed to slip into liquidation. Someone with that record might have been booed.

They are freshly perturbed because Republican David Petreus spoke highly of her handling of Benghazi.

on Feb 11, 2014

I contacted NADA about how much it paid for her appearance. Here is the response: "The keynote speakers at the 2014 NADA convention were Steve Forbes, J.R. Martinez and Hillary Clinton. We do not, and have not released, information on speaker fees."

on Feb 11, 2014

Not sure WHO was responsible for Hillary being invited to speak to one of the last bastions of capitalism at their annual convention after 7 years of brutality inflicted by an anti-capitalist government of which she plays major roles. Was Joseph Goebbels busy?
Not to say we haven't had republican politicians that have shafted us as Americans, but they don't hold a candle to the destruction and intent of the likes of Hillary. Democrats and RINOs, they are all pretty much on the same page, with few exceptions.
Does the 'majority' (?) of this capitalist body have no clue what we're dealing with in our govt today. It is not a 'hidden' fact that these people do NOT believe in capitalism, private ownership of property, or any of the other God given rights we have allowed them to squander. Does ANYONE reading this have any clue who the following people are?:
Cass Sunstein
Valerie Jarret
Francis Fox-Pivens
Van Jones
George Soros
Saul Alinsky
Tony Rezko
Courtney Dupree
Bill Ayers
or how about Hillary and Bill Clinton?
Here is an accounting of some of the Clinton's escapades:

What does it matter? Really! At this point, what does it really matter?

Matters a lot to me.

How quickly our memories fail us.

The Clintons are just Obamas, without the islamic indoctrination, operating at about 1/4 speed.

Who would have ever thought there was a bigger better liar than the Clintons?

on Feb 11, 2014

Famous last words after Obama gave the speech at the democrat convention prior to running for president:

"Wow, that guy was a good speaker!"

on Feb 11, 2014

Maybe next year you could invite radio host and constitutional lawyer Mark Levin to be the guest speaker to kind of even things out...........If they haven't silenced him and/or put him in prison.

on Feb 11, 2014

Sub title of article: Critics claimed Clinton had no business speaking to dealers.

She was paid very well to do a job she did very well. For the kind of money she was paid, I would venture to guess we could have got Washington to come from the grave and speak.

I think NADA insulted the dealer body's intelligence, unless the body has bit into the socialist/marxist idiology and has begun feeding the alligator in hopes that it will eat them last.

on Feb 11, 2014

I agree. George Washington would be a great NADA convention speaker. Maybe next year in San Francisco, if he's up for it.

Please or Register to post comments.

What's Retail Front?

Blogs about automotive retailing, commenting on news impacting the business of selling vehicles.


Steve Finlay

Steve Finlay is the editor of WardsAuto Dealer Business magazine and a senior editor for His journalism career started 42 years ago as a crime reporter. A Michigan native, he likes...

Jim Ziegler

Jim Ziegler, president of Ziegler Supersystems, is a trainer, commentator and public speaker on dealership issues.
Blog Archive
Follow Us

Sponsored Introduction Continue on to (or wait seconds) ×