The Democratic National Committee is calling Ted Nugent one of Mitt Romney’s “most highly touted endorsements.” That’s a bit of hyperbole, but Romney’s campaign did “tout” the endorsement and the candidate did take the time to chat with him.
Nugent is this week’s latest with friends like these, as the rival presidential campaigns to put each other on defense not of actual campaign staffers or even official surrogates, but the media figures and personalities who can stir things up.
In a radio interview at the NRA convention over the weekend, Nugent, referring to Democrats, said, “we need to ride into that battlefield and chop their heads off in November.” He also called the administration “vile” and “America-hating” and said, “If Barack Obama becomes the president in November, again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year.”
Democrats are unimpressed by the Romney campaign’s response to the incendiary rhetoric, which has been to condemn caustic discourse across the spectrum. Nugent is not backing down, but he is a performer with a history of outrageous comments, so what he said was actually not that surprising. But the Romney campaign did tout his endorsement on March 2, along with that of Kid Rock, in an apparent attempt to make the candidate slightly less buttoned down.
But in doing so, they stepped in to the trap of courting celebrities in politics: The price of visibility is the baggage.
Nugent is not on the A-list. His political pronouncements earn him more publicity than his performances, as he goes against the grain of a music business dominated by musicians from the left. There’s wonderment as to just what he actually brings to Romney, other than the amusement of an aging rocker linked to a straight-laced figure. But he’s no Oprah, or even Chuck Norris. The latter played up the kitsch to draw attention to Mike Huckabee’s campaign in 2008. By contrast, Nugent’s outrageous remarks draw attention to … Ted Nugent.
His remarks from the weekend are below.