Earlier this year, Republican hopeful Michele Bachmann was issued a “cease and desist” letter from rocker Tom Petty’s music publisher insisting that she stop playing his “American Girl” at campaign events. The Foo Fighters and John Mellencamp asked John McCain to stop playing their hits during his presidential run in 2008, and McCain settled out-of-court with Jackson Browne last year after the singer-songwritersued McCain and the Ohio and national Republican committees, accusing them of using his song “Running on Empty” without his permission.
On the other hand, Bill Clinton used Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop” in his successful 1992 presidential bid, Democratic Sen. John F. Kerry played Springsteen’s “No Surrender” in his 2004 campaign, in 2008 Sen. Barack Obama revived Springsteen’s “The Rising,” and that same year fellow Democrat John Edwards used Mellancamp’s “Our Country.” All of these came and went without objection from the artists. In fact, except for 2008, when Barack Obama was sent a “cease and desist” letter from the legal team for Sam Moore (one half of the legendary duo Sam & Dave) over the unlicensed use of “Hold On, I’m Comin’” as background beat at his rallies, its hard to find examples of Democrats getting taken to task.
So why do Democrats seem to get more free passes then Republicans?
“Musicians are part of the entertainment industry which is mostly anti-Republican. So lefty performers hate having conservatives use their music,” says Vice President of the Business & Media Institute and political commentator, Dan Gainor. “There’s definitely a PR component to complaining about politicians using your music. If you have a hardcore lefty base of listeners and you bash Michele Bachmann, then you score points. Imagine if a liberal tried to use Toby Keith’s ‘Courtesy Of The Red, White, And Blue.’ Keith and his fans would rightly be upset. But that never happens since liberals don’t like images of the flag.”
But Kid Rock, for his part, isn’t asking for cash from Romney to use “Born Free,” or from any other candidate for that matter.
After Romney chose his song, Rock wrote on his blog that Romney “and anyone else who wants to use my song do not need my permission. I said he could use it and I would say the same for any other candidate. I have to have a little faith that every candidate feels like he or she can help this country.”