Trump’s video appearance at the start of Kid Rock’s “Bad Reputation” tour signals an appeal to the former president’s base, and plays off the current culture wars. Like the political rallies held during Trump’s own presidency and well into Biden’s, it seems to mark the continuation of a campaign that never ends.
Kid Rock’s R-rated speech made his politics clear. But I have left out the most important part.
“Hello everyone, I love you all,” Trump’s video began. “I know you’re having a great time at the Kid Rock concert tonight. Quite frankly, he’s amazing. All of you in attendance are the true backbone of our great country, hard-working, god-fearing, rock-and-roll patriots.” He then called on the crowd to “continue to love one another,” before donning a “Make America Rock Again” hat.
As a musician, Kid Rock’s persona co-opts American symbols: a guitar, clothing items, album cover and stage set decorated with the American flag. On Wednesday, he appeared onstage beside a large, gold-colored bald eagle, decked out in a glittering red, white and blue costume. The art for the “We The People” single uses a typeface evoking a script used in the US Constitution, and the song briefly quotes from the document in its lyrics.
Although Trump has famously had difficulty getting the endorsement of celebrities, Kid Rock isn’t the only star to stand by him, with Gene Simmons of Kiss, comedian Roseann Barr and singer Aaron Carter also lending their support.
Featuring a cameo from Trump is only the latest outwardly political move by the 51-year-old musician.
In 2017, Kid Rock had dinner at the White House with former Alaska governor and vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin and rock musician Ted Nugent. A few months later, Kid Rock created a campaign webpage of his own, teasing on Twitter that he was running for Senate — a move that garnered support from the Republican super PAC Senate Leadership Fund, which is backed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). The musician later said it was a stunt.
Kid Rock and Trump have a long-standing relationship, and have appeared in multiple photos golfing together. (Trump joked, in his video greeting from him, that Kid Rock’s golf skills “could use a little work.”) In September 2020, when the pandemic’s death count was approaching 200,000, Kid Rock performed at a Trump rally in his home state of Michigan.
During a recent interview with Fox News’s Tucker Carlson, Kid Rock applauded the former president for “speaking off the cuff” and said he has liked him from the beginning. In that same interview, Kid Rock said that he was present when Trump claimed to have defeated the Islamic State, and that the president consulted the musician on a tweet he was writing. Another time, according to the musician, he and the president were “looking at maps” when Trump asked him what he should do about North Korea. Kid Rock described his reaction to Carlson: “I’m like, ‘What? I don’t think I’m qualified to answer this.’ ”