WASHINGTON — President Trump, who has repeatedly promised to bring jobs back to the United States, turned to manufacturing executives on Thursday to help him develop measures to do just that, giving powerful business leaders a potentially influential hand in shaping his still-evolving economic policies.
“My administration’s policies and regulatory reform, tax reform, trade policies will return significant manufacturing jobs to our country,” Mr. Trump said at the White House, sitting around a large table with members of his cabinet and two dozen manufacturing executives. “Everything’s going to be based on bringing our jobs back — the good jobs, the real jobs. They’ve left and they’re coming back. They have to come back.”
Mr. Trump has yet to outline specific proposals for overhauling the tax and regulatory systems, rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure or reshaping the work force, all of which would be essential to accomplishing his ambitious employment goals. He told the group that his campaign pledge to create jobs had played a major role in his winning the White House, and on Thursday he dispatched his cabinet and senior staff members to gather input from the executives on what those packages should look like.
The meetings unfolded less than a month before Mr. Trump plans to submit a budget blueprint that is expected to include a health care package to replace the Affordable Care Act, and to unveil a sweeping plan to cut taxes.
But the president suggested his job-creation strategy was still something of a blank slate.
“We’re going to then go through the room very, very carefully,” Mr. Trump said to the executives as reporters were escorted out of the State Dining Room so that he and the business leaders could meet privately. “We’re going to find out how we bring more jobs back.”
Manufacturing executives appeared elated to be asked.
“Thank you for the opportunity in bringing the language of business back to the White House,” said Andrew Liveris, chief executive of Dow Chemical. “I’m here to make chemistry sexy again.”
Marillyn A. Hewson, chief executive of Lockheed Martin, said she was “very excited about the fact that this is one of the first actions that you want to take on.”
“Do you think Hillary would have asked for $700 million?” Mr. Trump asked, referring to Hillary Clinton, his opponent in the presidential election. “Oh, boy. I assume you wanted her to win,” he added, as…