Bruce Springsteen has endorsed Barack Obama — and in the process has handed the candidate a lifeline in the debate over his comments about “bitter” Americans in small towns.
Springsteen wrote on his Website, “At the moment, critics have tried to diminish Senator Obama through the exaggeration of certain of his comments and relationships. While these matters are worthy of some discussion, they have been ripped out of the context and fabric of the man’s life and vision, so well described in his excellent book, Dreams of My Father, often in order to distract us from discussing the real issues: war and peace, the fight for economic and racial justice, reaffirming our Constitution, and the protection and enhancement of our environment.”
In endorsing Obama, Springsteen wrote that he chose the candidate because he is “head and shoulders above the rest.”
“He has the depth, the reflectiveness, and the resilience to be our next President. He speaks to the America I’ve envisioned in my music for the past 35 years, a generous nation with a citizenry willing to tackle nuanced and complex problems, a country that’s interested in its collective destiny and in the potential of its gathered spirit. A place where “…nobody crowds you, and nobody goes it alone.””
Springsteen didn’t back any candidate in the primary in the last election cycle, but he did throw his support behind John Kerry in the 2004 general election. he toured around the country for concerts with a handful of other musicians, and appeared with Kerry at October rallies that year in Columbus, Ohio and Madison, Wis. (below) It drew tens of thousands of supporters, and turned out to be one of the Kerry campaign’s high points, even if Springsteen’s support didn’t put him over the top.
Obama said of the endorsement, “The America that Bruce Springsteen has spoken about through song is one of big dreams, unyielding hope, and a resilient, hardworking people who struggle and sacrifice for a country as good as its promise. It’s a story I know and a vision I share for our future, and that’s why I’m so honored to have his support in this journey.”
There is no word on whether Springsteen will campaign for Obama. The Boss does have concert appearances scheduled in Charlotte, N.C. on April 27 and in Greensboro on April 28 in advance of the primary in that state.
What will be interesting is whether Hillary Clinton continues to use one of Springsteen’s songs, “The Rising,” in her campaign appearances.
Lara Bergthold, who was national deputy political director for John Kerry in 2004 and coordinated Hollywood outreach, notes that although she’s unsure of what impact the endorsement ultimately will have for Obama, his support “will make for a helluva inauguration party.”