Among political observers, it’s a truism that Republicans can’t clap in time to music.
Years ago, humorist Dave Barry even suggested that party affiliation could be determined by asking somebody to clap along to Ray Charles’ “Hit the Road Jack.” Democrats would clap at the right places, Republicans would not.
With roots in the entertainment industry and supporters in the Nashville music community, Fred Thompson is painfully aware of how lame it looks to have his supporters clapping all out of time to the music at campaign events, and he’s determined to do something about it.
Last week, while Thompson was in Nashville for a fundraiser, he asked Sara Evans and John Rich, two of the country stars backing his presidential run, to coach his staff on clapping in time.
“We think that if we can get the staff up to speed on finding the beat, they can guide the crowd in clapping in time,” says a Thompson insider, adding: “Have you ever seen one of those Mitt Romney events where the crowd is trying to clap along to Osmond Brothers songs? It’s so sad.”
Thompson himself reportedly joined in with enthusiasm as Evans and Rich guided them through finding the beat in several popular songs.
“They started off easy with ‘We Will Rock You’ and ‘I Heard it Through the Grapevine,’ and then moved through a few songs where the beat might not be so obvious,” a source who attended the clap training says. The rhythm instructors even threw in a couple of their own songs, Evans’ “Born to Fly” and Rich’s “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy).”
By the time the one-hour session was nearing its end, most of the two dozen or so Thompson insiders were able to clap more or less in time to the finale, a rousing version of “Rocky Top.”
“I think you’re really going to see a difference in the crowds at Fred’s rallies,” a satisfied campaign staffer says. “We need all the energy we can get.”