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Obama campaign busts out the musical firepower for final push

November 04, 2012|By Kathleen Hennessey
  • Katy Perry performs before President Obama arrives at a campaign event in Milwaukee.
Katy Perry performs before President Obama arrives at a campaign event… (Morry Gash / Associated…)

CINCINNATI -- President Obama isn’t just running a campaign these days, he’s staging a touring music fest.

Dave Matthews performed in Bristow, Va., and later in Aurora, Colo. Jason Mraz is all over Ohio. John Mellencamp will be opening for the vice president in Richmond.

Katy Perry was in Milwaukee. Pitbull was in Hollywood, Fla. Stevie Wonder in Cincinnati.

For the grand finale Monday night, Bruce Springsteen and Jay-Z in Columbus, Ohio.

Oh, and the president will be there, too.

Obama’s reelection hasn’t garnered anything like the pop culture and celebrity buzz of his first bid. For most of this long slog of a campaign, the most reliable musical fixture on the stump for Obama was will.i.am, singing his songs written about the 2008 campaign.

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Still, in the final push, with the race against GOP nominee Mitt Romney looking almost as tight as a race can get, the bold face names are going on the road for Obama.

Mitt Romney has his own stable of musical supporters, of course. Kid Rock is on the circuit, as is Randy Owen, the lead singer of Alabama. Many seem to pull from the country music world – the Oak Ridge Boys and Ricky Skaggs are on the list.

But it’s Obama who seems to be leaning more heavily on all the star power he can muster in the final 48 hours. These performances generally are used to drive up turnout and help get attention in local media markets, not always an easy thing to do in places where the candidates and their surrogates seem to be in town every 24 hours.

The acts generally don’t create a lot of national headlines -- unless they perform with the president’s name stretched across their midriff. (See: Katy Perry’s ballot dress from her recent performance in Las Vegas.) But they can go a long way toward warming up a sometimes cranky crowd that has been standing for hours.

Wonder certainly did that Sunday evening in Cincinnati, when he rocked out to “Superstition” and other hits. The crowd was so in the groove they kept it going, singing along full-throated to the national anthem after Wonder had left the stage.

Then they went back to waiting for the president.

kathleen.hennessey@latimes.com

Twitter: @khennessey


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