Maybe it isn't only in Lee Iacocca's fantasies that he hears the faint strains of "Hail to the Chief." He is the one corporate figure in America who has a high enough recognition factor that he could even be a featured personality in a supermarket tabloid. In a U.S. News survey of 1,177 opinion leaders in 29 fields who were asked to name the five Americans they regarded as exercising the most influence on national life, Iacocca was the only one not in public office in the top 10.

President Reagan came in first, followed by Federal Reserve Board Chairman Paul Volcker. Iacocca ranked ninth, just behind White House chief of staff Donald Regan and just ahead of budget director David Stockman. That even put him ahead of Nancy Reagan at 12 and Vice President George Bush at 13. He was No. 1, however, on the list of the 20 most influential people in the private sector, followed by CBS newsman Dan Rather and Moral Majority leader Jerry Falwell. If, as some of Iacocca's admirers and critics have said, he desperately wants to run for the presidency, invitations may soon be going out for an Iacocca fundraiser.