Article 2012-10-18 Cuyahoga Community College, Parma, OH

Bruce Springsteen, Bill Clinton campaign for Obama at Ohio rally

PARMA, Ohio — President Obama brought the big guns — Bubba and the Boss — to Ohio Thursday to shore up his slim edge in the key battleground state.

Former President Bill Clinton and Bruce Springsteen spoke — and in one case sang — before a crowd of 3,000 in a gymnasium at Cuyahoga Community College just outside Cleveland, with 700 more in an overflow area.

It was a far cry from 2008, when 80,000 attended a downtown rally for Obama with Springsteen on the eve of the election. But there’s still time for that kind of mass event — Thursday’s gathering was a more intimate affair.

It was Springsteen’s first event of this election cycle for Obama, after indicating that he would likely not get involved in this year’s campaign. After stumping for John Kerry in 2004 as well, Springsteen had said he did not want to be a “professional campaigner.”

But following up on a lengthy and emphatic statement posted to his Web site Wednesday night, Springsteen told the Ohio crowd that he'd spent three decades “writing about the distance between the American dream and the American reality” and that he believed Obama represented a better choice to close the gap between them.

“Our vote, our vote, is the principle way we get to determine that distance and that equation,” he said. “Voting matters. Elections matter.”

Springsteen said he appreciated passage of universal health care, and he is concerned about women’s rights and the continued disparity between the rich and poor. He said he was campaigning because GM is still making cars — a reference to Obama’s support for government assistance for the auto industry.

“What else would I write about? I’d have no job without that,” he joked.

He called Obama’s election night four years ago a time when the doors of history were ”blown open.” But, he added, “I’m here today because I’ve lived long enough to know that despite those galvanizing moments in history, the future is rarely a tide that rushing in.”

“It’s often slow march, inch by inch, day after long day. I believe we are in the midst of those long days right now. And I’m here because I believe President Obama feels those days in his bones — for all 100 percent.”

In the statement, Springsteen also noted his support for Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown (D), running for reelection, and Elizabeth Warren, challenging Republican Sen. Scott Brown in Massachusetts.

Springsteen played several of his biggest hits, including “We Take Care of Our Own,” a regular feature of Obama rallies, and led the crowd in a sing-along of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land.”

Springsteen will also play an event for Obama later Thursday in Iowa, as Clinton goes on to a rally in Steubensville, Ohio.

Clinton, who took the stage before Springsteen, joking he was qualified to be his warm-up act because he was “born in the U.S.A," accused Romney of playing “hide and seek” with his tax plan and his budget.

He implored Ohio supporters to find undecided voters and talk about the progress of the past four years.

“He knows that it’s not fixed. The question is which path will fix it,” Clinton said.

And, in Ohio especially, Clinton said the critical battleground state should vote on the basis of the auto bailout.

“I love Ohio. It’s an old school place. We like our families, we like our communities, we value personal loyalty. When you were down, you were out and your whole economy was threatened, the president had your back. You’ve got to have his back too,” he said.

By Rosalind S. Helderman via The Washington Post.

Springsteen Helps Obama Lure Blue-Collar Votes in Ohio

PARMA, Ohio — First, let’s get to the point: He played six songs, starting with “No Surrender,” then weaving to “The Promised Land,” then a new one called “Forward” that he joked he came up with after President Obama telephoned him asking for a song to go with the campaign’s “Forward” slogan.

Even the man viewed widely as one of America’s most renowned lyricists admitted he couldn’t really get his head around that one. “Forward?” said Bruce Springsteen, the latest surrogate on the presidential campaign trail, looking stumped. “Yeah.”

The only thing going for the slogan, he said, is that it beats “Backward.”

The crowd, some 3,000 packed in a gymnasium at Cuyahoga Community College, laughed. Mr. Springsteen, for his part, did the best he could.

“I kissed your sister and I kissed your mama,” he sang.

“Forward!” yelled the crowd, per instructions.

“Let’s vote for the man who got Osama,” Mr. Springsteen sang, looking sheepish.

But Ohio is working-class country — the prime Springsteen demographic. So there was no way this crowd wouldn’t love anything he did, even “Forward.”

The president’s campaign aides were ecstatic to have the Boss back on the road for their boss. Mr. Springsteen joined former President Bill Clinton on stage for the event, as part of the Obama campaign’s full-throated effort to scrounge up every single vote it can in Ohio. If Mr. Obama can win the state, campaign aides figure, the path to victory for the Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, will look like one of those single-track dusty roads that Mr. Springsteen is always singing about.

Both Mr. Clinton and Mr. Springsteen, at some point in their careers, have been compared to preachers, and on Thursday, Mr. Clinton was definitely channeling his inner pulpit-pounder. “This is the first time in my life I ever got to be the warm-up act for Bruce Springsteen,” Mr. Clinton said. His voice started rising. “I am qualified ’cause I was born in the U.S.A., and unlike one of the candidates for president, I keep all my money here!”

Mr. Clinton delivered a fire-and-brimstone condemnation of Mr. Romney in particular and Republicans in Congress in general, accusing them of doing everything they could to stand in the way of Mr. Obama’s jobs agenda.

Of the unemployment rate, Mr. Clinton said: “They were crushed when it dropped to 7.8 percent. They had talked about the unemployment rate for three and a half years as if it were scripture! It was right up there with the tablets that Moses brought down from Sinai!”

His arms flailed, his cheeks reddened. “Then when it comes down, they say ‘no, it was rigged!’ ”

By the time Mr. Springsteen showed up on stage, Mr. Clinton had worked the crowd up to the point that the rocker known widely as BRUUUUUUUCE, the star who has sold out Giants Stadium in under seven minutes, was claiming that Mr. Clinton was a tough act to follow.

“It’s like going on after Elvis,” Mr. Springsteen said.

After performing “Forward” — don’t look for that one on the Billboard charts — he wrapped the crowd around his little finger with “Youngstown,” from his uber-depressing 1995 album, “The Ghost of Tom Joad.”

Mr. Obama, whose musical taste runs more toward Miles Davis, Al Green and Javanese flute music (a preference he apparently acquired back in his Indonesia days), has been proclaiming himself a big Bruce fan ever since Mr. Springsteen hit the road for him in 2008. But the truth is, unlike the working-class young white men the president is hoping that Mr. Springsteen will help him make inroads with, Mr. Obama did not cut his musical teeth on Springsteen anthems like “The River.” It’s doubtful anyone has ever seen the president singing along, like legions of fans, when Mr. Springsteen belts out: “But lately there ain’t been much work, on account of the economy.”

In fact, the longest block of time that the president has spent with Mr. Springsteen seems to have been in December 2009, when the singer sat next to the Obamas during the Kennedy Center Honors, howling with laughter and slapping palms with Mr. Obama during the comedian Jon Stewart’s tribute: “I believe that Bob Dylan and James Brown had a baby. Yes, and they abandoned this child — as you can imagine at the time, interracial same-sex relationships being what they were — they abandoned this child on the side of the road between the exit interchanges of 8A and 9 on the Jersey turnpike. That child is Bruce Springsteen.”

But Mr. Obama has a legion of staff members and speechwriters who are massive Springsteen fans, so when the president took the stage at the same event, he could say, truthfully, “It’s no wonder his tours are not so much concerts as communions.” Alas, just when people started thinking that maybe Mr. Obama had actually jammed at the Stone Pony on the Jersey Shore at some of those communions, the president added, “I watched him on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial” when Mr. Springsteen “rocked the national mall for my inauguration.”

No matter. Mr. Springsteen is a fierce Democrat, and even though he said he wasn’t going to return to the campaign trail this year, these are hard times for many Democrats here in this American land.

And so, the Boss played. He did an acoustic version of the song that the Obama campaign has co-opted, “We Take Care of Our Own,” Followed by Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land.”

Mr. Springsteen exhorted the crowd to “Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote!”

Then he told the crowd, “I’ve got one more for you.”

And the screen door slammed.

By Helene Cooper via The New York Times.
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