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Rep. to McCain: Stop using my song!

From NBC's Abby Livingston
For eight years, John McCain and New Hampshire have shared a love affair.

New Hampshire picked up McCain in the 2000 Republican primary and stayed true to him in 2008. It was fitting, then, that McCain concluded a Nashua event yesterday with the 1976 Orleans' hit celebration of monogamy, "Still the One."

Well, almost fitting.

Proving that campaign vetting should extend beyond vice presidential contenders (or those vetting the potential veeps), McCain sparked the ire of the song's co-writer, the founding member of Orleans and current New York congressman, John Hall.

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"This is yet another example of John McCain not learning anything from George Bush's mistakes," Hall wrote First Read in an interview over e-mail. "First, McCain adopted Bush's failed policy of an open-ended war in Iraq, then he wrapped his arms around the failed Bush economic policies that have put the squeeze on middle class families. Now, he's making the same mistake George Bush made illegally using a copyrighted song without asking either the writers or the performers for permission."

This sort of story has a history of springing up in presidential politics, most notably when, in 1984, President Ronald Reagan misinterpreted Bruce Springsteen's critical "Born in the USA" lyrics for jingoism.

Hall, in fact, who was elected to Congress in 2006, demanded Bush to stop using his song in 2004, issuing cease-and-desist letters to the sitting president's presidential campaign and the Republican National Committee.

"What is at issue here is Senator McCain's use of the song to try and advance an agenda that I do not support without respecting copyright law and intellectual property," Hall continued.

This isn't McCain's first run-in this cycle with a liberal rocker. An irked John Mellencamp asked the Arizona senator to delete his music from the campaign event shuffle.

In the waning days of the 2004 presidential campaign, Hall was watching television when he heard his song used at a Bush-Cheney rally.

"George Bush was busy campaigning on an 'ownership society,' yet never asked me, the band, or the publishers for permission," Hall said. "The next day attorneys for the band, the writers and the publishers all sent cease-and-desist letters to the Republican National Committee and the Bush-Cheney '04 Campaign. By 2 p.m. that day the campaign sent out a spokesperson who said, 'In deference to Mr. Hall, we will stop using his song.'

"I hope we don't have to resort to the same actions to get Sen. McCain to stop using the song."

*** UPDATE *** McCain camp sends over this response to MSNBC's David Shuster. "We love John Hall's stuff," spokesman Brian Rogers said. " We will take his concerns under consideration. Beyond that, we have no other comment."

Here is the full Q&A: 
FIRST READ: This afternoon in Nashua, NH, John McCain held a town hall which concluded with the song "Still the One." As a member of the band Orleans, how do you feel about this?
HALL: This is yet another example of John McCain not learning anything from George Bush's mistakes. First, McCain adopted Bush's failed policy of an open ended war in Iraq, then he wrapped his arms around the failed Bush economic policies that have put the squeeze on middle class families.   Now, he's making the same mistake George Bush made illegally using a copyrighted song without asking either the writers or the performers for permission.  I'm a Democratic Congressman who has publicly endorsed Senator Barack Obama.  My former colleagues and I strongly support Senator Obama for President.

The only one John McCain is Still the One for is George Bush. The Orleans and the authors of this song strenuously request that he stop using our song.

FR: What exactly happened between you and the Bush campaign over the use of the song in 2004?
HALL: In 2004 I was watching television the Thursday before Election Day and heard the announcement "Now we're going to Columbus, OH for the unveiling of the new Bush-Cheney campaign theme song." They cut to a rally with President Bush on stage waving to the crowd while balloons fell down and The Orleans version of Still the One was blasting on the speakers. My jaw literally dropped open because no permission had been asked, much less a license granted.  George Bush was busy campaigning on an "ownership society," yet never asked me, the band, or the publishers for permission.

The next day attorneys for the band, the writers and the publishers all sent Cease and Desist letters to the Republican National Committee and the Bush-Cheney '04 Campaign. By 2 p.m. that day the campaign sent out a spokesperson who said "In deference to Mr. Hall, we will stop using his song."

I hope we don't have to resort to the same actions to get Senator McCain to stop using the song.

FR: Before you were elected to Congress, you were an advocate against nuclear energy. At this same event, McCain made the following statements: "We're going to have to become independent from foreign oil. We must do that. That's our mission…we can do it through wind, tide, solar, nuclear power. Nuclear power has got to be part of any resolution that we have of this issue.

On the issue of nuclear power again, my friends, we are sailing navy ships around the world for more than 50 years with nuclear power plants on them. The french, who we love to imitate, 80% of their electricity is generated by nuclear power. But we've got to go to nuclear power. And Senator Obama's energy policy has no mention of nuclear power."

What is your reaction to this?
HALL: This is just one issue that I strongly disagree with Senator McCain on, and an example of why I don't want him using my songs to further his agenda. Quite frankly, I'm surprised that someone campaigning as an anti-pork candidate is such a strong advocate for an industry that has never been able to survive without billions in taxpayer subsidies. The ongoing nuclear waste problem is a significant environmental threat, and nuclear power poses a serious terrorist risk.

FR: Hillary Clinton used the song at events before she dropped out. Do you have a different reaction to her usage than the McCain campaign?
HALL: I was a strong supporter of Senator Clinton's; she helped me campaign for my seat in Congress. I voted for her twice as my Senator and would have no objection to her using "Still the One."

What is at issue here is Senator McCain's use of the song to try and advance an agenda that I do not support without respecting copyright law and intellectual property.