PARMA, Ohio -- Two rock stars -- one a former Democratic president, the other a multi-platinum musician -- made an appeal for President Barack Obama to voters in battleground territory in northeast Ohio on Thursday.
Former President Bill Clinton joined forces with Bruce Springsteen for a high-profile appearance on Obama's behalf in the Cleveland area, a key region in a key battleground state that could make-or-break the president's bid for a second term.
Both former President Bill Clinton and Bruce Springsteen were in Parma, Ohio, Thursday to sing the praises of President Obama. NBC's Shawna Thomas reports.
"I've had, I don't know, 20-something jobs before I got elected president. But this is the first time in my life I ever got to be the warm-up act for Bruce Springsteen. I am qualified because I was born in the USA; and unlike one of the candidates for president, I keep all of my money here," Clinton told told the more than 3,000 packed into the gym at Cuyahoga Community College.
An additional 700 crammed into over-flow rooms.
The rally was Springsteen's first stop on the campaign trail this year, but just the latest for Clinton, who's emerged as one of Obama's top advocates, first at September's Democratic National Convention and later at campaign stops throughout the country. Clinton has been to Florida, New Hampshire and Nevada, and will travel tomorrow to Wisconsin.
Springsteen was set to travel to Iowa for a solo rally later in the afternoon.
Both Clinton and Springsteen played up Ohio's Midwestern tradition and the auto industry rescue initiated by Obama in 2009 in their speeches, mindful of the jobs preserved by the bailout of GM and Chrysler. ("I'm thankful GM is still making cars," Springsteen joked. "What else would I write about? I'd have no job!")
During his warm up act, which exceeded 30 minutes, Clinton blasted Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney for a lack of transparency, telling supporters they did not put up with the "hide and seek stuff" of the GOP candidate. His budget, tax returns and details about his economic plan are things the former president said the Republican has been hiding.
"I love Ohio, it's an old school place," Clinton said. "We like our families, we like our communities, we value personal loyalty. When you were down, you were out and when your whole economy was threatened, the president had your back. You gotta have his back now."
Rocker Bruce Springsteen performs for a crowd of Obama supporters in Parma, Ohio.
At one point, in making the case against Romney, Clinton acknowledged that the economy was "not fixed," a comment on which the Republican nominee's campaign quickly pounced.
"We agree with former President Bill Clinton. The economy has not been fixed under President Barack Obama," said Romney spokesman Ryan Williams. "Today, more than 23 million Americans are struggling for work, poverty has increased and food stamps are at record levels. Mitt Romney believes we can do better by creating 12 million new jobs with higher take-home pay, cutting spending to put our nation on course for a balanced budget, and actually fixing our economy."
For his part, Springsteen has a well-established track record of supporting Democrats, and he posted a letter on his website Wednesday evening formally backing Obama.
While campaigning in Parma, Ohio, former president Bill Clinton draws comparisons to his eight years in office to the promise of four more years of Obama in the White House, if re-elected.
"This presidential election is different than the last one because President Obama has a four year record to run on. Last time around, he carried with him a tremendous amount of hope and expectations" he wrote. "Unfortunately, due to the economic chaos the previous administration left him with, and the extraordinary intensity of the opposition, it turned into a really rough ride. But through grit, determination, and focus, the President has been able to do a great many things that many of us deeply support."
In front of the crowd today, Springsteen said, "The future is rarely a tide rushing in. It's a long march, day by day. And Obama feels that in his bones for all 100 percent of us."
In a short acoustic set, Springsteen played some of his more recognizeable hits -- including his steel town dirge, "Youngstown," for the city just a short distance from Thursday's rally -- along with a jokingly-composed campaign song The Boss said he wrote at the president's request.
"Let's vote for the man who got Osama," went one line. Continuing about the second debate: "Smilin' Joe really brought the drama."