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Barack Obama has no chance to win the Ted Nugent voters

April 19, 2012|By David Horsey
  • Barack Obama is no rock star among gun owners, Ted Nugent fans and many white male voters, as illustrated in this Horsey cartoon from 2008.
Barack Obama is no rock star among gun owners, Ted Nugent fans and many white… (David Horsey / Los Angeles…)

Hard rocker Ted Nugent should write a new tune called "I Can't Keep My Mouth Shut." At one performance, he encouraged the president of the United States to suck on his machine gun. Now, he has issued this final judgment of the Obama administration: “Our president and attorney general, our vice president, Hillary Clinton–-they’re criminals. They’re criminals."

Nugent made the comments at the National Rifle Assn.'s annual convention in St. Louis on Saturday. He also said, “We need to ride into that battlefield and chop their heads off in November! Any questions?”

Apparently the Secret Service has a few questions. Nugent is being investigated to see whether he was being literal with his decapitation remark.

Mitt Romney might also have a question. I imagine he is thinking, "How do I rein in a supporter like Ted?" The Romney folks were giddy when they won Nugent's endorsement. One of Romney's sons sent out a tweet saying how cool it was to have Ted on board. But now Democrats are blaming the Romney campaign for any  wild words that spill out of the hyper-libertarian guitar thrasher's mouth.

Romney should just relax. In fact, he should be happy. Romney is a buttoned-down rich guy who has bobbled the ball every time he's tried to make a pitch to blue-collar voters. As he has famously made clear, he has much more in common with the men who own NASCAR racing teams than he has with the men in the stands. Rather than being a liability, Nugent lends him needed credibility with these voters.

As a group, moderate-income white males are strongly inclined to vote for any Republican candidate, but this year, Democrats hope to win over some of them by portraying Romney as a creature of Wall Street who likes firing people and would have let the U.S. auto industry drive off a cliff. The flaw in the Democrats' scheme is that they have a candidate problem of their own.

In 2008, Barack Obama was a mega rock star among many voting groups who held lofty, but unrealistic expectations about how he could transform American politics. Yet, his appeal did not extend to blue-collar white guys. They saw Obama as someone alien, as if he were a ukulele player wandering onstage at a Ted Nugent concert.

Not much has changed in the four years since. Obama has a big advantage among female voters, but he is way behind with white men. Romney doesn't excite them, of course -- he looks a bit too much like the guy in the expensive suit who comes in to announce layoffs. But, if Ted Nugent says Mitt is OK, they'll vote for the millionaire over the ukulele player any day of the week.

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