America's most famous automotive pitchman is making a pitch for Dick DeVos for governor.
Former Chrysler Corp. Chairman Lee Iacocca extols Republican challenger DeVos in a new 30-second TV ad airing now, calling him a manufacturer who kept his company in Michigan while others left.
"Now he makes products that Michigan sends all over the world," Iacocca says in the ad, which shows scenes of DeVos moving swiftly through a manufacturing plant.
"And the most important thing Dick DeVos makes is Michigan jobs. If you ask me, that's what Michigan needs right now," Iacocca says from what appears to be a classy home library.
John Truscott, DeVos' campaign spokesman, said Iacocca agreed to appear in the ad after DeVos visited him at his Los Angeles home this summer. A mutual friend Truscott would not identify introduced them.
"Mr. Iacocca liked what he had to say," Truscott said. "Bottom line is, he still loves Michigan, and the state of Michigan economically displeases him."
Truscott thinks the ad will help DeVos' campaign because people trust Iacocca, and that trust will rub off on DeVos. Iacocca was in Europe and not available for comment Tuesday, Truscott said.
DeVos has been under heavy attack from Gov. Jennifer Granholm and the Michigan Democratic Party for eliminating about 1,400 Amway jobs in Michigan after the company began an expansion into China. DeVos was president of Amway and its parent company Alticor from 1993 to 2002.
Since then he has not been directly involved with the company his father founded.
DeVos has said that he didn't send any Michigan jobs to China, and that the overseas expansion prevented even more cuts in the company's U.S. manufacturing workforce.
Chris DeWitt, spokesman for Granholm's campaign, said the Iacocca ad won't help DeVos when voters learn that DeVos eliminated Michigan jobs.
In 2004, Iacocca endorsed Democratic Sen. John Kerry for president and appeared on his behalf in Michigan. In 2000 he endorsed Republican George W. Bush.
Iacocca oversaw Chrysler's turnaround after its near collapse and federal bailout in 1980. He became an industry icon with TV ads that wooed customers with the line, "If you can find a better car, buy it."
Contact CHRIS CHRISTOFF at 517-372-8660 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
BY CHRIS CHRISTOFF FREE PRESS LANSING BUREAU CHIEF