SAN JOSE, Calif. – Four years after former Chrysler Corp. chairman Lee Iacocca (search) cut ads supporting George W. Bush's election, he's switching alliances to presidential challenger John Kerry (search).
Iacocca decided to announce his endorsement in person at a Kerry speech Thursday on creating high-tech industry jobs in Silicon Valley.
Iacocca, 79, gained a reputation as a champion of innovation within the automotive industry. He oversaw the development of the Ford Mustang in the 1960s and later the minivan and electric vehicles while at Chrysler Corp. He is the chairman and founder of EV Global Motors Co., a Los Angeles-based firm that designs electronic bicycles.
In a television ad that aired in Michigan during the 2000 campaign, Iacocca criticized Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore on automotive issues, contending that Gore's environmentally "extreme ideas" could cost autoworkers their jobs.
Iacocca retired as chairman of Chrysler Corp. in 1992. He was president of Ford Motor Co. before joining financially ailing Chrysler in 1978.
In prepared remarks, Kerry said Thursday that the United States is losing its technological edge under President Bush's leadership, with the disappearance of 800,000 high-tech jobs and falling from 4th to 10th in the use of broadband. He said countries such as South Korea and Japan are deploying networks that are 20-50 times faster than what is available in the United States.
He vowed to create jobs in the high-tech industry through an investment of $30 billion raised by auctioning off broadcast airwaves.
"This technological revolution is the foundation of a 21st century economy," Kerry said. "But it's up to us to build on that foundation so that we can create and expand 21st century jobs. We won't get very far with a government that wants to stifle or ignore the creativity and entrepreneurship that will produce the next big idea: We need to encourage it and invest in it."