NEW YORK -- Toyota, already well-rooted and spreading in the U.S. marketplace, is staking a claim to a bigger piece of the American political landscape.
Toyota Motor North America Inc. demonstrated its growing political maturity with a high-profile presence at the Republican National Convention in New York this week. The effort represents another step in the Americanization of the U.S. branch of Japan's largest automaker.
The company was a sponsor of some of the social events surrounding the convention, and its executives have been visible at many others, where movers and shakers from government mingle with representatives of corporate America.
"With our increasing manufacturing presence in the United States, we need to be fully engaged" with office holders and candidates who can affect the company's future, said Josephine Cooper. She is Toyota's group vice president of government and industry affairs and is leading the Toyota contingent at convention week events.
Toyota Motor North America is the holding company for Toyota's various North American subsidiaries. It is headquartered in New York City.
Toyota-sponsored events included a party Tuesday for Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., at Blue Fin, a club and restaurant on Broadway, and a reception for Republican governors, set for Thursday at the New York Stock Exchange.
Among automakers, Toyota joined General Motors and DaimlerChrysler in sponsoring a string of events for convention-goers. All three companies had similar activities at the Democratic convention in Boston in July.
Ford Motor Co. follows another course, not sponsoring lavish parties, but deploying a squadron of top executives to visit with officials and candidates at open events and in private meetings. One Ford spokesman called it a more "strategic" approach.
Cooper, the former president of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, who joined Toyota early this year, said her company's higher convention profile is a departure from the past.
It has been accompanied by an advertising campaign emphasizing Toyota's investments in plants across the country.
It is a "sign of our continuing effort to be a part of America," Cooper said. But "there is always more to do."