WASHINGTON—Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is seeking advice on "one of the most important issues" of her presidential campaign: picking a campaign theme song.
So far, more than 100,000 Americans have responded to her lighthearted call for help. Some have been inspired to compose original tunes. It's not exactly "American Idol," but the reaction is another example of the Internet's growing role in politics.
More than 500,000 people have watched Clinton's videotaped appeal on YouTube or her campaign Web site since the campaign posted it last Wednesday. She's expected to announce her choice in the next week or so.
Picking the right song can be tricky, especially since the signature tune will be played to death. In the 1996 presidential campaign, Republican candidate Bob Dole yanked "Dole Man," his campaign version of the `60s hit "Soul Man," from the top of his playlist after songwriter Isaac Hayes objected.
In the 1800s, when campaign songs became a staple of presidential politics, candidates commissioned original tunes to tout their achievements. In the 1840 election, William Harrison offered a series of songs celebrating his role in the Battle of Tippecanoe, a conflict with Indians nearly three decades earlier.
Theodore Roosevelt came up with "We're Ready for Teddy Again," for his 1912 campaign, but the voters didn't agree.
More recent presidential candidates have simply adopted well-known tunes as their own. In 1992, Bill Clinton played Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop" (Thinking About Tomorrow) at virtually every campaign stop.
Hillary Clinton has asked voters to choose from nine titles or propose their own songs. The campaign's options, selected by the candidate and her staff, are an eclectic mix of country, rock and soul.
Smash Mouth's version of "I'm a Believer," The Temptations' "Get Ready" and Shania Twain's "Rock This Country!" are on the list, along with KT Tunstall's "Suddenly I See," the Dixie Chicks' "Ready to Run," the Staple Singers' "I'll Take You There" and Jesus Jones' "Right Here, Right Now."
U2 has two contenders, "City of Blinding Lights" and "Beautiful Day."
Peter Daou, who's overseeing the song search as the director of Clinton's Internet operations, said the goal was to find a song with a good beat, good lyrics and widespread appeal.
"Anyone who's ever been to a political event knows the music makes a difference. It gets people pumped up and excited," he said.
Daou said the campaign would select the song that won the most votes, unless a write-in candidate struck the right chord with Clinton.
A volunteer adviser on YouTube urged Clinton to pick his favorite, a song called "Cancer in My Backyard."
"I know it's an unfortunate title—`Cancer in My Backyard'—but I know the boys in the band and I'd bet you they'd consider renaming that song," he says in his video response to the candidate. "Perhaps we could call it `Go Hillary, Go,' or something like that."
Clinton knows full well that even the most revered songs can get a candidate in trouble. A bootleg video of her off-key rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" was a smash hit on YouTube after someone posted it on the video-sharing Web site in January.
Clinton sought to turn the embarrassment to her advantage in seeking suggestions for a campaign theme song.
"Whatever song you choose ... I make you this solemn and sacred promise," she says in her online message. "I won't sing it in public—unless I win!"
To view Clinton's call for song suggestions and hear her nine song choices, go to www.hillaryclinton.com
To hear her off-key rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" go to http://www.youtube.com and search for "Clinton sings National Anthem."