Kid Rock: Senate run just a publicity stunt

Adam Graham and Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News

Kid Rock made clear his intentions regarding a run for U.S. Senate during an appearance on “The Howard Stern Show” Tuesday morning.

“(Expletive) no, I’m not running for Senate. Are you (expletive) kidding me?” Rock said. “Who couldn’t (expletive) figure that out?”

For months, the Michigan rocker has teased a Senate run and made political stumping a cornerstone of his current live show. But he said the Senate stunt was part of his promotion for his new album, “Sweet Southern Sugar,” which is due out Nov. 3. He also plans to tour, starting in January.

The Senate tease — for which he claimed he received support from all over the world — is “the worst advice that I ever gave myself, but it’s been the most creative thing I’ve ever done, and I got to see everybody’s true colors,” the 46-year-old said in the wildly profane 70-minute interview.

But the tease wasn’t completely over, and he returned to joking about a run.

“If the left wing keeps (expletive) with me, I’m gonna run!” said Rock, whose real name is Robert Ritchie.

“I’m gonna beat the (expletive) out of Debbie Stabenow, I’m gonna smack the living (expletive) out of all them (expletive) on the Hill.”

Stabenow, a Lansing Democrat running for a fourth term, has said she and Rock share a love of music but conceded he’s better at guitar (Stabenow is a pianist). She said she’ll continue doing what she does best, which is “fighting for Michigan.”

Two Republicans have entered the GOP primary race in Michigan, aiming to unseat Stabenow in a state won narrowly by President Donald Trump last year: Retired state Supreme Court Justice Bob Young and Farmington Hills businessman John James.

“While we certainly aren’t surprised by Kid Rock’s announcement, we do appreciate the fact that he has brought some national attention to this race and the abysmal failure that Debbie Stabenow has been for the working families of Michigan,” said Bryan Posthumus, Young’s campaign manager.

James’ campaign said he shares the same frustrations with Washington politicians as Ritchie.

“He is a straight shooter, and John always talks about how he listened to Kid Rock’s ‘All Summer Long’ while preparing for combat in Iraq,” said Ted Goodman, campaign spokesman.

At the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference last month, GOP officials and activists said they did not believe Rock would run.

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel, who ran the Michigan GOP before Trump tapped her for the national post, said Rock had not reached out to her.

“I just don’t think he’s running,” McDaniel said.

Not long ago, the idea of Kid Rock running for Senate in Michigan would have been a “complete joke,” said Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia Center for Politics.

“It shows us how far our our standards have fallen that we could even take something like that seriously,” Sabato said.

“The reason we took it seriously is because, in the Trump era, anything is possible. No matter how outrageous. And he’s outrageous. Look at the language he used to announce he wasn’t running.”

Sabato noted another celebrity appeared on Stern’s show for years saying “outrageous” things, including comments about his own daughter’s physique – Donald Trump.

Political analysts had said Rock, who lives in Clarkston, could self-finance a campaign and enjoy wide name recognition, but he would also face obstacles. He would have had to use his real name on the ballot or legally change it to Kid Rock.

His Senate stunt prompted complaints to the Federal Election Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice that he was violating federal election law by acting like a Senate candidate, while failing to register his candidacy or comply with rules on campaign contributions.

In July, Rock set up a website, kidrockforsenate, which links to a Warner Bros. page selling campaign shirts, hats, yard signs and stickers that say, “Kid Rock for US Senate.” The site says proceeds benefit voter registration efforts and are not political contributions.

The Senate tease did stir a protest against Rock’s opening night concert at Little Caesar’s Arena in Detroit in mid-September. And when he was introduced to the crowd at the Detroit Pistons’ home opener last Wednesday, he was greeted with mixture of cheers and boos.

“I definitely got booed, no question,” Rock told Stern. “But the other half were standing up and clapping.”

Rock told Stern that his show was the only interview he would be doing and mentioned his distrust of the press, especially the “left-wing media,” including the New York Times, which he called “a little bit gay.”

He later said he’d also be doing an interview for Megyn Kelly’s “Today” show, saying, “She’s a friend.”

Rock said he’s fed up with the music business and is planning to only play Friday and Saturday nights when his tour kicks off in January.

“I’m done with the music business,” he said. “I’m not going to put that much effort into it anymore, because I’m too rich.”

When Stern asked if he was worth $100 million, Rock gave a silent acknowledgment.

Rock acknowledged his support of Trump but said the Republican president’s messaging could use some massaging. Rock originally supported Detroit native Ben Carson ahead of the 2016 presidential primary.

Rock also talked about selling the home he owned with his ex-wife Pamela Anderson (“the best $2 million I ever lost,” he said), his love for his private plane, and his stance on taking pictures with fans (he’s not doing it anymore).

While plugging his new album, Stern asked him why he continues to put out new music. Rock said it’s just part of his process.

“I’m creatively confused,” he said.


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