The campaign of Bernie Sanders debuted an inspirational ad on Thursday that features Simon & Garfunkel’s 1968 song “America” as its soundtrack, but a spokesman for the candidate said it was not meant as an endorsement from the duo.
The spot has drawn strong reviews from ad makers, but also was the source of a fracas between the Sanders campaign and one of Hillary Clinton’s most prominent supporters.
Michael Briggs, a spokesman for Sanders, said that the music was properly licensed. A representative for Garfunkel said that singer gave his approval, while a rep for Simon, who also wrote the song, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The one-minute ad features scenes from Sanders’ campaign rallies, along with images of everyday Americans at work in offices and on farms. The skyline of Des Moines is shown in one glimpse.
The campaign introduced the spot in a press release early on Thursday. “‘They’ve all come to look for America,’ sing Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel in their classic folk rock anthem as faces flash on the screen of people backing Bernie’s insurgent campaign for president.
“In Iowa alone, Sanders has spoken to more than 40,000 people at rallies and town halls since his campaign began last spring.”
The spot will run in Iowa and New Hampshire beginning on Friday.
The ad already has stirred up tensions between Sanders supporters and backers of Clinton’s.
David Brock, who founded the pro-Clinton PAC Correct the Record, told the Associated Press that the spot was a “slight” to the Democratic base, suggesting that it features too few people of color.
“From this ad it seems black lives don’t matter much to Bernie Sanders,” Brock was quoted as saying.
That drew a rebuke from the Sanders campaign, which issued a statement calling Brock a “mudslinger.”
Briggs said that Sanders “doesn’t need lectures on civil rights and racial issues from David Brock, the head of a Hillary Clinton super PAC. Twenty-five years ago it was Brock – a mud-slinging, right-wing extremist – who tried to destroy Anita Hill, a distinguished African-American law professor. He later was forced to apologize for his lies about her. Today, he is lying about Sen. Sanders. It’s bad enough that Hillary Clinton is raising millions in special-interest money in her super PACS. It is worse that she would hire a mudslinger like David Brock. She should be ashamed of her association with Brock.”
Campaigns have been anxious to adopt classic American rock and folk songs at rallies and in ad spots. Republicans in particular have run into trouble from artists who claim that they did not give campaigns their approval to use their works, often with the worry that it would make it seem that they were giving their endorsement. Donald Trump, for instance, ran Neil Young’s “Rockin in the Free World” at his announcement speech in June. Young, however, said he never gave the campaign his approval and instead supports Sanders.
Supporters of Clinton and Sanders are planning a series of events in the next week before the Feb. 1 Iowa caucuses.
On Monday, Chelsea Clinton is scheduled to visit Los Angeles for a series of fundraisers, including an event at the offices of Frank Gehry, with tickets starting at $250 per person.
On Tuesday, Sarah Silverman, Kevin Nealon, George Lopez and Paul Rodriguez are headlining a fundraiser at Jamie Masada’s Laugh Factory in Hollywood. Sanders will not be there, but each of the comics is expected to perform.