Bruce Springsteen Performs for 3,000 Obama Supporters at Ohio Rally
Amid chants of "Bill" and "Bruce" from an overflow crowd in Parma, Ohio, former President Bill Clinton and rocker Bruce Springsteen rallied voters on behalf of Barack Obama on Thursday.
Clinton was first to take the stage at the Cuyahoga Community College's Western Campus, where he talked about Mitt Romney's economic plan for the country.
"Mr. Romney says…I’m going to just cut taxes for the middle class, I’m not interested in rich people, they’ll pay the same percentage of tax they pay now," Clinton told a crowd of 3,000 at the grassroots event. "What does that mean? He thinks we’re dumb."
After a 30-minute stump speech, Clinton introduced Springsteen, who arrived with guitar and harmonica in hand.
"Crowd loved Clinton, but they are going absolutely nuts for Springsteen," Henry J. Gomez, a political writer with The Cleveland Plain Dealer, tweeted from the event.
According to Gomez, Springsteen quipped: "I get to speak after President Clinton…That's like going on after Elvis."
He opened with No Surrender, then performed The Promised Land, campaign sing-along, Youngstown, We Take Care of Our Own and This Land is Your Land before closing with Thunder Road.
Thursday's rally marked the rocker's first public appearance for Obama on the campaign trail this season. (Springsteen posted a long letter on his website Wednesday explaining his decision.)
"He campaigned for Obama four years ago, even headlining a downtown Cleveland event for him the weekend before Election Day, but Springsteen had indicated he would stay off the campaign trail this year," Gomez noted in his story for the Plain Dealer. "Word last week that he would perform here and in Ames, Iowa, came as a surprise – and a sign that Team Obama was calling in the cavalry."
At the rally, Springsteen cited Obamacare, the auto bailout and abortion rights as reasons he's supporting Obama, according to Gomez.
After the Ohio gathering, Springsteen was expected to headline another rally for Obama in Iowa.
Members of the White House traveling press corps, who were on their way to New York for several events with Obama, asked spokesperson Jennifer Psaki about the rally during a mid-flight conference.
"Springsteen said he was going to sit out the election and not be political," said one reporter. "Do you guys have to twist his arm, or how did that come about?"
"Look, I think he was pretty clear in his endorsement that he's a strong supporter of President Obama, that he's happy to be out there rallying people in Ohio and Iowa and participating in the effort to get people engaged, this key part in the campaign," Psaki said. "We're thrilled of course that he's out there. Who's better than Bruce Springsteen to get young people and people who are not young anymore excited."
Another reporter asked: "Do you think Springsteen will outdraw the President?"
"I think that more American people have seen Bruce Springsteen over the years than have seen President Obama, and that's a pretty big feat, because the President has had some pretty big crowds," Psaki said. "But Bruce Springsteen has had a pretty significant career, and we think he'll draw a good crowd today in Ohio."