A group of political consultants on Wednesday opened a national campaign to draft Chrysler Corp. Chairman Lee A. Iacocca for President in 1988.
"We really only have one constituent in this campaign and that's Lee Iacocca. We have to convince him that he has to run for President," said Terrence O'Connell of the Draft Lee Iacocca for President Committee.
However, Iacocca, later in the day, filed a letter with the Federal Election Commission disavowing any involvement with the group.
Leaders of the committee told a news conference they have considered the intricacies of election law and Democratic Party rules and determined that a movement to draft the 61-year-old, tough-talking executive is legally feasible.
The next step, they said, is to demonstrate Iacocca's political strength by raising money and collecting signatures through early 1987.
But, Iacocca told the FEC: "I hereby disavow any activity in my behalf, including the collection of contributions and the expenditure of funds."
Fred Eiland, a spokesman for the FEC, said without the disavowal the commission possibly could have ruled that the draft committee had been authorized by Iacocca and that he was a candidate.
"Ninety percent of the American people know Lee Iacocca, and a vast majority of those people like him and feel positively about him," said O'Connell, a Washington consultant and former political director of the Democratic National Committee.
But before a smiling Iacocca delivers a victory speech at the Democratic National Convention, the group must overcome what they acknowledged are formidable obstacles--chief among them the fact that Iacocca has expressed no interest in running.
Aides to Iacocca, who led his company back from the brink of bankruptcy and headed the effort to restore the Statue of Liberty for its centennial this year, say their boss is unequivocally not running.