When FoMoCo was looking to reshape its image in March 2005, it hired a top political strategist to help it turn things around. But after only 18 months on the job, Josh Gottheimer is on his way out the door.

Gottheimer instituted the "180 degrees in 180 days" campaign to rejuvenate Ford, teaming up with his former political associate (and new boss) Mark Penn to pinpoint messages with which American customers would identify; images such as Innovation, Safety and American Heritage. Gottheimer urged Ford to move ahead with hybrid development, and, among other image-building initiatives, was behind the presentation of the special Mercury Mariner Hybrid to his former boss, President Clinton.

Gottheimer has been a senior Democratic Party operative for nearly a decade, despite his young age. He was a speechwriter and advisor in the Clinton White House, worked for former NATO Supreme Allied Commander General Wesley Clark (coolest title ever) in his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, then joined Sen. John Kerry's campaign for the White House (who could evidently still use him), and is tipped to be a key player in Senator Hillary Clinton's campaign if and when she announces her candidacy for president.

With Detroit making news by asking for funds from the federal government, Gottheimer has a unique vantage point straddling the two spheres: He insists that what American automakers are looking for from Washington is not a bail-out but crucial R&D funds that would help insure that MoTown jobs don't get sent overseas. Detroit can only hope that Gottheimer takes that message with him if and when he finds himself back in the national policymaking ring. As for the rest of us, we can only hope he keeps Hillary from reducing the speed limits again.

[Source: Detroit News Auto Insider]