President Donald Trump is thoroughly impressed with what Elon Musk has accomplished as a leader in building electric cars and reusable rockets.
“You know, we have to protect Thomas Edison, and we have to protect all of these people that came up with originally the light bulb and the wheel and all of these things,” Trump added. “And he is one of our very smart people and we want to cherish those people.”
To those familiar with the backstory of Musk’s rise to fame, it’s fair to guess that the Tesla CEO wouldn’t find the president’s compliment very flattering, since nobody hates Thomas Edison more than Musk’s lifetime hero, Nikola Tesla, after whom he named his electric car company.
Speaking of Tesla, Trump, true to his market-first political mentality, couldn’t discuss the company without highlighting its spectacular stock performance lately. “You go back a year and they were talking about the end of the company,” he said. “And now, all of a sudden, they’re talking about these great things.”
In the past year, Tesla shares have climbed more than 90%, with most of the surge happening in the past three months, thanks to a surprise profitable third quarter in 2019 and better-than-expected delivery numbers in the fourth quarter.
And Musk’s other company, the privately-operated SpaceX, is equally impressive in the eye of the president.
“I spoke to him very recently, and he’s also doing the rockets,” Trump said. “He likes rockets. And he does good at rockets, too, by the way. I never saw where the engines come down with no wings, no anything, and they’re landing.”
These comments came just days after SpaceX successfully carried out a major inflight test of its Crew Dragon, the spacecraft designed to transport NASA astronauts to the International Space Station.
Trump and Musk have publicly met in person once at a White House reception in February 2017 featuring 24 manufacturing CEOs.