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Novi — Musician Kid Rock formally endorsed U.S. Republican candidate John James on Tuesday, calling him just the kind of accomplished person outside of politics to beat U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow this fall.

Rock, who appeared with James and his wife after giving a speech littered with shots at the media, former President Obama and references to how he was called a racist during his own flirtation with a Senate run last fall.

"I believe you should be successful before politics rather than using politics to be successful," said Rock, whose real name is Robert Ritchie.

And in a shot at Obama, Ritchie said, "I don't think just because you went to an Ivy League, big-time college and you get a law degree and community organized and (held a seat) a short time in the Senate, that qualifies you to be president of the United States."

Rock said: "I truly believe that John is the best candidate to lead us on this journey."

After spending time with them all over the country, Rock said "him and his wife Liz are solid individuals."

James then jumped on his themes of his candidacy: job growth, too many abortions and getting Stabenow of Lansing out of office. He served in Operation Iraqi Freedom as an aviation officer, according to his campaign website.

"In this country, we do the hard things. In this country, we do the right things," he said. "We need combat veterans on the floor of the U.S. Senate who understand how to keep America safe."

Before the Novi rally, James said "Mr. Ritchie is a great man and a patriot."

"Veterans or first responders and the people of the state of Michigan have always been near and dear to his heart," James said. "And I've had the honor of bumping into him a couple of times and he's just a great guy who really wants what's best for Michigan and this country."

Grosse Pointe financier Sandy Pensler is the other candidate. 

Rock, a Michigan native, for months last year teased a run for the U.S. Senate that turned out to be a publicity stunt

Rock was seen at a Detroit Pistons game with James in January. 

"We're really just talking about taking our state back and giving it to the people, not the career politicians," James said. "I have a passion for service. When people see servant leadership, people who are passionate about doing what they can to serve other people, they get on board. And Mr. Ritchie is no different."

In December, Kid Rock donated $122,000 of the money raised by selling merchandise promoting “Kid Rock for US Senate,” his fake political campaign, to a voter-registration organization affiliated with the College Republicans.

Rob O’Neill, a former Navy SEAL, was at the rally. O'Neill, who took part in the 2011 mission that killed Osama bin Laden, last year endorsed James, saying he has the right stuff to be a U.S. senator.

"John's special in my mind initially because he's America first and not party politics first," O'Neill said. "As a combat veteran myself, he's a combat veteran, we've been overseas, In the heat of battle, it doesn't matter which side of the aisle you're on; it matters about the men and women and the people on your team."

O'Neill said "we need people that not only understand what the threat is, how real it is, how small the world is."

He said he had to support the African-American candidate after hearing about James' story about growing up in Detroit, enlisting in the Army, becoming a Ranger, going to West Point and becoming an Apache pilot.

lfleming@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2620

Twitter:@leonardnfleming

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