Published on Thursday, August 5, 2004 by Knight-Ridder
Springsteen Gets Political with Attack on Bush
by Mark Egan
NEW YORK - Rocker Bruce Springsteen has stayed out of party politics for 25 years, but now he says the stakes are too high and he's urging fellow Americans to vote President Bush out of office in November.
A day after he announced he would join two dozen other stars in nine "battleground" states for a rock 'n' roll tour aimed at ousting Bush, the man known as "The Boss" explained his decision in a sharply worded editorial.
"Personally, for the last 25 years I have always stayed one step away from partisan politics," Springsteen wrote in The New York Times, noting he built a career singing about universal issues like human rights, dignity and freedom instead.
"This year, however, for many of us the stakes have risen too high to sit this election out."
Republicans and Democrats both asked to use Springsteen's 1984 hit "Born in the U.S.A." -- a song about how unwelcoming America was to returning Vietnam veterans but often mistaken for a patriotic anthem -- for use in political campaigns. Springsteen declined the requests.
And in June, when a concert promoter urged Springsteen to headline a large concert to upstage Bush's nominating convention in New York, he insisted he would not play any events tied to the Democratic or Republican conventions.
But now Springsteen, whose blue-collar roots have resonated through his music for 30 years, making him the quintessential American rock hero to the working class, is taking sides.
He says Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry and his running mate, John Edwards, "are sincerely interested in asking the right questions and working their way toward honest solutions."
Of the "Vote for Change" tour -- 34 shows in 28 cities -- in the first week of October, one month before the U.S. presidential election, Springsteen said, "Our goal is to change the direction of the government and change the current administration come November."
He then launched a blistering attack on Bush for undertaking an "unnecessary war in Iraq," running record budget deficits, cutting spending on social programs and giving a massive tax cut for the richest Americans -- a group that includes Springsteen himself.
"Our American government has strayed too far from American values," Springsteen wrote. "It is time to move forward. The country we carry in our hearts is waiting."
Six concert lineups will play simultaneous shows in a blitz of swing states which could go either Democrat or Republican in November: Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, Florida, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Wisconsin.
Dave Matthews, James Taylor, the Dixie Chicks, Pearl Jam, R.E.M, John Mellencamp, Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt are among the other performers.
While Springsteen has stayed out of politics, in May he posted the text of an anti-war speech by former Vice President Al Gore on his official Web site, calling it "one of the most important speeches I've heard in a long time."
© Copyright 2004 Knight-Ridder