By Jack Sharkey, July 17, 2016

It's the height of the summer political season and last week we looked at winning theme songs of the presidential candidates from Kennedy to Obama, but since politics is as much about losing as it is about winning, we should also give our due to the theme songs of the losers. So here is our fun (and completely non-partisan) look at the songs that just didn't help as much as the candidates hoped they would.

 

Honorable Mention: Al Smith - 1928

Possibly the most feared and despised presidential candidate in American history, his pick of a song about New York probably didn't help him much west of the Hudson River. 

 

1964 - Barry Goldwater

You will seriously want to get out and knock on doors for Mr. USA after listening to this.

 

Extra Credit - LBJ's 'Daisy' Ad

Or maybe not.

 

1972 - George McGovern

Simon and Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water was the unofficial "official" theme song of George McGovern's 1972 bid against incumbent Richard Nixon. Here's the duo performing the track at a fundraiser for McGovern in June of 1972.

 

1976 - Gerald Ford 

Okay, so it's not 'Go, Go, Goldwater' but it is pretty safe and dependable.

 

1984 - Walter Mondale

Mondale used the theme from 'Rocky' hoping to knock out his opponent (I do sincerely apologize for that but I couldn't help myself). This 1977 performance has nothing to do with Mondale's ill-fated run against Ronald Reagan but you have to admit it is fun to watch.

 

1988 - Michael Dukakis

The best America was yet to come but we'll never really know because Dukakis wasn't able to overcome George H.W. Bush in 1988. Extra Credit: Google "Dukakis and the Tank The Making Of A Political Disaster."

 

1992 - Ross Perot

Perot unironically used this Willie Nelson-penned Patsy Cline hit. 

 

1996 - Bob Dole

Dole's campaign briefly used "Dole Man" set to the Sam & Dave hit "Soul Man" until both Sam and Dave sent him a letter telling him to stop. Unfortunately, Sam and Dave's letter to John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd apparently never arrived. 

 

2000 - Al Gore

Along with Bachman-Turner Overdrive's "You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet" and Orleans' "Still the One," Al Gore's Internet-savvy campaign used this digital music masterpiece.

 

2008 - John McCain with Honorable Mention to Rudolp Guiliani

Nothing says "Eh, I mean, I'm kind of begging here because I'm pretty sure you're voting for the other guy and I really, really want to be President" more than John McCain's 2008 barn-burner of a theme song. "C'mon, give me a break willya?"

 

But then again, there's nothing more ironic than a law and order candidate using a song about "crude and feckless" drunken youths for his campaign theme song. I wonder if anyone in Rudy Guiliani's camp bothered to listen to this song, which actually refers to a 'Rudie', Jamaican slang for a Rude Boy, or a delinquent-type?  

 

2012 - Mitt Romney

Kid Rock put his 2010 hit behind Romney actively campaigning for Romney after asking Romney what he was going to do for his home state of Michigan.

 

Politics is messy, mean, and necessary, and from what can see from the music over the years, pretty consistent too.

Jack Sharkey for KEF