The man who saved Chrysler, thanks in part to bailout loans guaranteed by the government, is endorsing the candidate for president who famously wrote an op-ed titled "Let Detroit Go bankrupt" rather than save the big U.S. automakers through Treasury loans.    

Citing business experience that will "enable a stronger America," former Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca has endorsed Republican nominee Mitt Romney for president.

"Hope and speeches won't get our people back to work," Iacocca wrote in an op-ed for the Detroit Free Press explaining his decision. 'It will require experienced leadership that can create and lead policy change that will enable a more robust and competitive America."

The endorsement undercuts one of President Obama's central re-election arguments: that his decision to bail out the auto industry, as compared to Romney's call for a managed bankruptcy, proves his economic bona fides. The bailout was crucial in revitalizing Chrysler and GM.

By throwing his support to Romney, Iacocca, who led Chrysler from the late 1970s to early 1990s, restoring it to profitability, is instead backing the former Massachusetts governor's contention that his abundant private sector experience makes him better qualified than Obama to spur job growth. In his op-ed, Iacocca pointed to stagnant economic growth and massive annual deficits as evidence that Obama has failed.

"If you are out of work or worried about your job, having trouble making ends meet, are worried about your kids' future or your own or if you just have a nagging sense that as Americans we can do better than this, it's time to wake up and stop just hoping it will all work out in a few more years," Iacocca wrote.

Iacocca's history with the Romney family stretches back to when the nominee was young and his father, George Romney -- himself a former auto industry executive -- was governor of Michigan. In an interview with Charlie Rose, Iacocca said Romney "grew up almost next door to me" and stressed Romney's executive experience from serving as governor of Massachusetts.

The 88-year-old former executive endorsed Democratic nominee John Kerry in 2004, reversing his decision in 2000 to support, and campaign for, George W. Bush.