Michele Bachmann is the most recent in a long line of mostly Republican candidates asked to refrain from using campaign theme songs written by mostly left-leaning artists. Case in point, Tom Petty asked Michele Bachmann to stop using his song “American Girl”, and as if that wasn’t bad enough Katrina and the Waves told her she can’t use “Walking on Sunshine” either. But Bachmann’s won’t back down she’s playing the song anyway. Experts say there is a bit of a gray area when it comes to whether a politician can continue to use a song once the artist has asked them to stop, but generally most candidates do. The controversy started when Bruce Springsteen told Ronald Regan to stop using his song “message of hope” (contrary to popular belief Regan never actually played “Born in the U.S.A”). Bachmann shouldn’t feel too bad for being turned down twice; George W. Bush was rejected four times. He was told to stop playing Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down”, John Mellencamp’s “R.O.C.K in the U.S.A”, Sting’s “Brand New Day” and “Still the One” by Orleans. Sen. John McCain took some flack for his running mate Sarah Palin’s use of the Heart song “Barracuda”. McCain had to settle out of court with Jackson Brown for using “Running on Empty” in a campaign ad without permission. While Republicans seem to have a hard time of it, Democratic candidates like Bill Clinton not only get the thumbs up, sometimes they can get a popular band to reunite, as was the case with Fleetwood Mac when Clinton used their song “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow” for his campaign. So what is a Republican candidate to do? The safe bet? Play a country song.
Ken Rudin, NPR's Political Junkie
Brian Hiatt, senior writer, Rolling Stone