Bruce Springsteen rocks out for Barack Obama

Rock star Bruce Springsteen will perform at an Obama campaign rally with Bill Clinton in Ohio next week. The race has tightened considerably in that important swing state, and Springsteen's appearance is designed to bolster Obama's image as a fighter for working class men and women.

Alex Brandon/AP
In this 2008 photo, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on stage with his wife and daughters, hugs Bruce Springsteen at a rally in Cleveland, Ohio. Springsteen is hitting the campaign trail again on Obama's behalf, and he'll be joined by former President Bill Clinton at a rally in Parma, Ohio, on Thursday.

Rocker Bruce Springsteen may be Republican New Jersey Gov. (and Mitt Romney campaign surrogate) Chris Christie’s musical idol. Gov. Christie claims to have been to 130 of “The Boss’s” concerts going back to the 70s.

But the feeling between the two New Jersey notables is not mutual, and next week in Parma, Ohio, Mr. Springsteen will be rocking out for Barack Obama. Ohio, of course, is a key battleground state; no Republican has ever won the presidency without taking Ohio.

The Obama/Biden team has been emphasizing its fight for the working middle class, and that’s certainly been Springsteen’s philosophical and political soul ground over the decades.

His work for progressive causes and Democratic candidates goes back to 1972 when he did a benefit for George McGovern. In 2009, he and folk icon/rabble rouser Pete Seeger performed Woody Guthrie’s classic “This Land is Your Land” at Barack Obama’s inaugural celebration at the Lincoln Memorial.

Obama campaign officials are delighted.

"Bruce Springsteen's values echo what the President and Vice President stand for: hard work, fairness, integrity," campaign manager Jim Messina said in a statement. "His appearances will help with our get-out-the-vote effort in these critical swing states and we are thrilled with his ongoing support."

As The Hill newspaper points out, Springsteen’s song “We Take Care of Our Own,” which appears on his 2012 album “Wrecking Ball,” has been a staple at Obama rallies, and was played at the close of Obama’s acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention.

Earlier this year, it seemed unlikely that Springsteen would work on behalf of Obama again this year as he did in 2008.

“I prefer to stay on the sidelines,” he reportedly told an interviewer. “I genuinely believe an artist is supposed to be the canary in the coal mine, and you’re better off with a certain distance from the seat of power.”

At the time, he seemed somewhat disappointed in Obama.

“I would like to have seen more activism in job creation sooner than it came,” he said, according to an ABC News report in February. “I would like to have seen people helped out, seen some of these [home] foreclosures stopped somehow.” Springsteen said Obama was “more friendly to corporations than I thought he would be, [and] there’s not as many middle-class or working-class voices heard in the administration as I thought there would be.”

At the same time, Springsteen said, “He kept GM alive, which was incredibly important to Detroit and Michigan, and he got the health care law passed, although I wish there had been a public option and didn’t leave the citizens victims of the insurance companies. He killed Osama bin Laden, which was extremely important. He brought some sanity to the top level of government.”

It may well be that the closeness of the race – in particularly Mitt Romney’s ascendency in many public opinion polls since the first presidential debate – changed The Boss’s mind.

Obama’s lead in Ohio has slipped to barely more than a single percentage point from nearly six points two weeks ago. “Romney on the rise in Ohio” read the headline Saturday in the Columbus Dispatch.

“You know what? There’s a growing crescendo of enthusiasm,” Romney told an estimated 8,500 supporters at a rally in Lancaster, Ohio, Friday night. “People recognize that this is not an ordinary campaign, this is a critical time in the country. There’s more energy and passion. People are getting behind this campaign.”

“Romney was previously greeted by huge crowds in Cuyahoga Falls on Tuesday night (12,000 people) and in Sidney, Ohio, on Wednesday night (9,000), and both he and Ryan have campaign stops scheduled in the state today,” the Columbus Dispatch’s Joe Vardon reported Saturday. “Ryan also added a noon rally in Cincinnati on Monday.”

The next night will be the second Obama-Romney debate, this one in a town hall format at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY.

Two nights later, Springsteen will join Democratic political rock star Bill Clinton for what could be a critical campaign rally in Parma, Ohio.

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