Tom Petty vs. Republicans: Top Three Moments

Categories: WTF
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Christopher Victorio/OC Weekly
Tom Petty's management sent a Teapublican Michele Bachmann's campaign a cease-and-desist letter, demanding she never use his song "American Girl" at campaign events again. That was fast--she just launched her campaign yesterday!

At any rate, this is just the latest instance where Tom Petty has had to ward off those pesky Republicans from using his songs to further their political careers. And Petty's not having it, no sirree. After the jump, a few moments in time when Petty has had to issue cease-and-desist letters to politicians (mostly for the song "I Won't Back Down"). 
1. Petty vs. George Bush

In 2000, then-Texas Governor George W. Bush used "I Won't Back Down" for his presidential campaign. The song is the first single from Tom Petty's first solo album, Full Moon Fever, released in 1989.  It suggests a struggle against the odds, defying powers that be. To Bush, it was the perfect song for a political campaign. Tom Petty didn't like that, so he had his publisher, Randall Wixen of Wixen Music Publishing Inc., send Dubya a "cease and desist" letter to stop his campaign from using the song.
According to Pophistorydig:  
Wixen wrote to Bush in early February 2000, telling him to "immediately cease and desist all uses of the song in connection with your campaign."  Wixen said in his letter to Bush that the use of the song "creates, either intentionally or unintentionally, the impression that you and your campaign have been endorsed by Tom Petty, which is not true."

Michael Toner, a lawyer for Bush's campaign, wrote back, saying,  "We do not agree that the mere playing or use of a particular song at a campaign event connotes any impression, either intentionally or unintentionally, of endorsement."  Nevertheless, Toner confirmed that the Bush campaign would not use the song at any future campaign events.  Yup, Bush backed down.

2. "I Won't Back Down" + Democrats

Petty has nothing against Dems using his song for their political campaigns, however. Virginia Democrat Jim Webb and Robert Menendez of New Jersey both ran for Senate using the song successfully. Eliot Spitzer of New York used it for his gubernatorial bid, as did Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards--both of which failed.

3. "I Won't Back Down" + People Who Backed Down

When Hillary Rodham Clinton was campaigning to be the Democratic candidate for president during the primaries, she would use Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down" at her gatherings and press conferences.

Most notably, after Al Gore conceded the 2000 presidential election to George Bush, Tom Petty performed the song for Gore and his supporters at the gathering and at Gore's vice presidential home in Washington.


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