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As for those who say one chance was plenty, Obama's GOP rivals rely heavily on country and roots-rock Americana. Newt Gingrich, looking to mount a comeback, has played Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger" at campaign events, spurring a lawsuit from the band, much as Springsteen once scolded Ronald Reagan for using "Born in the U.S.A." (In this way at least, Newt is Reaganesque.)
Mitt Romney has used Toby Keith's "American Ride," lamenting a "tidal wave comin' 'cross the Mexican border." More notably, he too has sung, bursting into "America the Beautiful" in front of Florida voters. Romney can't sing. But neither can most of us, and this kind of karaoke-night show of vulnerability could help a candidate whose very hairs seem to be laid in place by an algorithm.
Of course, musicianship goes only so far: just ask Jon Huntsman, keyboardist for '70s prog-rock band Wizard. A well-chosen political sound track is a force multiplier; it can deliver arguments and messages to the gut. But it can't replace them, and it can't sing problems away. In the end, contra Al Green, it does matter whether times are good or bad, happy or sad. But stagecraft doesn't hurt. And it could make the difference between a standing O and another song and dance.