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N.J. Car Dealer Offers Saddam a Car

February 20, 2003

SOUTH BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) _ Even a ruthless dictator needs a good car. Especially if he decides to hightail it out of town.

At least, that’s the way car dealer Brad Benson saw it. Since U.N. sanctions and American threats haven’t driven Saddam Hussein out of Iraq, he decided to sweeten the pot _ with a car.

``If he’ll just give up now and get out of Iraq, I’ll give him a brand new Mitsubishi, nicely equipped, every year for the rest of his life,″ Benson promised last week in a radio ad.

``How about a four-wheel drive Mitsubishi Outlander, a perfect choice for running away in the desert?″ he said.

But it was Benson, a former New York Giants center, who had to take cover after the commercial hit the air.

For two days, irate e-mail messages and telephone calls rained down on Brad Benson Mitsubishi Hyundai and the three stations that aired the commercial.

``How dare you give a car to that guy, when he’s going to be responsible for killing a lot of people,″ said one caller.

``I can’t tell you how sickening it was to hear you making fun of a very serious situation,″ said another.

``One lady called me and said she wanted to send me money for gas for him, so he could flee across the desert in the Mitsubishi and we could blow him up with a Cobra helicopter when he does,″ Benson said.

In all, about 300 people responded via e-mail and telephone, the majority unhappy with the ad.

``The switchboard operator said, `You have to do something. I can’t keep up with the calls,‴ Benson said.

Benson did something. He pulled the ad after two days, replacing it with one apologizing for any offense that was taken.

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