By Joseph Lichterman, Editor in Chief
Published October 18, 2012
PARMA, Ohio — Bruce Springsteen planned to sit this election cycle out, but when President Barack Obama called him asking to write a song for his re-election campaign, the Boss couldn’t say no.
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“He called me a few weeks ago and said, ‘Bruce, I don’t have a campaign song,’” Springsteen said at an Obama campaign event on Thursday, where he performed after a speech by former President Bill Clinton. “‘There’s a country guy who wrote a song about Mitt Romney. There’s a song gap. I need something.’”
Springsteen, of course, was joking, and after campaigning for John Kerry in 2004 and for Obama in 2008, the musician had said repeatedly in the lead up to the 2012 election that he wasn’t planning on publicly supporting a candidate.
But as polls show a tightening race between Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, Springsteen decided to lend his support to the President’s re-election efforts, performing in Ohio before traveling to Iowa for another concert Thursday afternoon.
Standing shoulder-to-shoulder in the blue- and white-walled gymnasium at Cuyahoga Community College, 3,000 people gathered to listen to Springsteen’s six-song set, while another 700 watched from an overflow room. Though he didn't get a request from the President, Springsteen did unveil a new song — "Forward" — which he named after Obama's re-election slogan.
"Let’s vote for the man who got Osama. Forward, and away we go," Springsteen sang as the crowd, encouraged by the rock legend, yelled "Forward" back.
Springsteen said he had trouble finding words that rhymed with Obama, so in the second verse he sang about his love for the state of Ohio.
"I came to Ohio looking for a date," Springsteen sang. "We kissed and I said it’s a hell of a state. We made love, but it wasn’t so great. Forward, and away we go."
On a more serious note, however, Springsteen said he believed the “distance between the American dream and reality” continues to grow, adding that Obama will help unify the country.
“I’m here today because I’m deeply concerned about the deepening disparity in wealth between our best off citizens and our everyday citizens,” Springsteen said, while lightly strumming his guitar. “That’s a disparity that I believe our honorable opponent’s policies will increase and it threatens to divide us into two distinct and foreign nations.”
Springsteen listed a litany of Obama’s policy achievements — the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the bailouts of Chrysler and General Motors and the repeal of the military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy — in order to further showcase his support for Obama.
With early voting in Ohio already underway, and with several recent polls giving Obama anywhere from a one- to five-point advantage over Romney, both campaigns are heavily emphasizing the importance of winning the Buckeye State.
Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan campaigned in Ohio on Wednesday for the fifth day in just more than a week. Obama also held a rally on the campus of Ohio University in Athens, Ohio on Wednesday, and Vice President Joe Biden is expected to visit the state early next week, according to the Associated Press.
Still, one of the most active Democratic surrogates throughout the election season has been former President Bill Clinton. He has traveled exhaustively throughout the country to campaign for Obama and other Democrats, even stopping in a Detroit suburb last Friday to headline a fundraiser for Sen.