After a lifetime of voting for and supporting Democrats — and even declining appointment to the U.S. Senate from a Democratic governor — Lee Iacocca Thursday endorsed Republican Mitt Romney for president.
The blessings of the onetime Chrysler chairman are expected to help Romney in two highly competitive states: Pennsylvania, where the 88-year-old Iacocca was born and raised and is still widely respected, and in Michigan, where Iacocca rose to become a major figure in the auto industry and won international praise for cobbling together the government-backed loans that saved Chrysler in 1980.
Iacocca, who now lives in California, issued a statement saying he backed Romney because of his ‚??dozens of years of experiences in the public and private sectors‚?Ě and because the GOP nominee has a plan that ‚??will enable a stronger America.‚?Ě
What makes Iacocca‚??s endorsement of Romney particularly newsworthy is that, although he has long insisted he is an independent, the onetime auto titan has a history of supporting more Democrats than Republicans. He backed George W. Bush for president in 2000, but then backed John Kerry in 2004. Four years ago, he endorsed then-Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico for the Democratic nomination for president. In 1991, following the death of Sen. John Heinz (R-Ill.), Pennsylvania‚??s then-Democratic Gov. Bob Casey Sr. publicly voiced a desire to appoint Keystone State son Iacocca to fill the vacancy in the Senate. But Iacocca declined, and the appointment went to Democrat Harris Wofford.
Even more interesting about Iacocca lining up behind Romney is that, where the Republican nominee has been critical of the auto bailout, Iacocca told the Detroit News in 2010 that he supported the Obama administration‚??s plan to save General Motors and Chrysler. He did, however, say that the bailout plan cut out too many dealerships.
In his 2009 book Leadership, Iacocca was highly critical of President Obama and his administration, and in his statement endorsing Romney, he said ‚??hope and speeches won‚??t get our people back to work.‚?Ě