George Pataki is dead serious.
He’s on the phone from his office at his firm, Norton Rose Fulbright, explaining that he truly does believe Kid Rock should run for Senate in Michigan. He tweeted as much earlier on Tuesday morning. But I wasn’t entirely certain if that was a ruse.
After all, this pairing could not be more odd-fitting: Pataki, a Yale-educated, thrice-elected former governor, throwing his support behind a rapper turned semi-successful country rocker whose image revolves around being unapologetically crass.
But no, Pataki insists, this is no prank. He likes the idea of an entertainer jumping into politics. Sure, things have been a bit rocky for Donald Trump. But Pataki is more “inclined to think of Ronald Reagan” when discussing possible Sen. Rock, Kid (R-MI). Reagan, he says, “seemed to work out pretty well.” More to the point, Pataki wants to know why lawyers and CEOs and the white-collared class should have a monopoly on elected office.
“I think the idea of a prominent entertainer who has done a lot of patriotic things like entertaining our troops here and abroad, is thinking seriously about running for the Senate, I think that’s a positive thing for the party and the country,” he explains.
Things are moving fast, a bit too fast. Pataki stresses that this is more of an encouragement for Kid Rock to run than an endorsement of his candidacy. He couldn’t possibly do the latter, after all, since there is no actual candidacy and since he knows so little about the man. Pataki has never met Kid Rock. He doesn’t own a single Kid Rock album. He can name two songs but not a single policy position. Those will have to be fleshed out in time, should Kid Rock choose to, you know, actually do this.
What little Pataki does know, however, is positive. Kid Rock has “patriotism” and a “commitment to our troops,” which Pataki admires since he has two sons in the military.
Then there’s one of those songs he’s heard.
“If you listen to ‘Born Free,’ I guess his most recent very popular song, it expresses a very strong [support for] limited government, maximum personal freedom and responsibility that I happen to agree with,” Pataki explains.
He doesn’t sing or even hum. But the tune is now firmly in the ether of our conversation.
Free, like a river raging
Strong, if the wind I'm facing.
Chasing dreams and racing father time.
Deep like the grandest canyon,
Wild like an untamed stallion.
There are other songs of course; some far less patriotic and for more, well, let’s call it, politically delicate. Pataki hasn’t heard those. But he knows they exists. And he imagines that should a campaign materialize, they “will come out and people will decide if it’s something that matters.”
Were songs like “Black Chick, White Guy” and “Ain’t Enough Whiskey” all the obstacles Kid Rock may face. There’s also the matter of his actual upbringing—far more cozy-middle class than Horatio Alger—and his politics. He’s a Republican and a Trump fan, to be sure. But he’s also talked about taxing the rich and disparaged “Bible thumpers,” albeit in the context of also ridiculing marijuana-smoking “hippies.”
And would anyone actually take it seriously? Or would the assumption be that it’s a publicity stunt.
“Well,” Pataki responds, ”they didn’t take Donald Trump that seriously either. I’ll tell you I didn’t take [Senator] Al Franken that seriously, watching him on Saturday Night Live with a satellite dish attached to his head as an interviewer was not exactly the background you would expect to have for a U.S. Senator.”
We go back and forth for a bit about the books Franken wrote prior to running for office; how the former SNL star was a partisan, to be sure, but someone who had a clear grasp of policy. It’s not lost on Pataki. But his position remains firm. “I think it would be a good thing if [Kid Rock] chooses to run because this is a people’s democracy,” he explains, “this isn’t a politician’s democracy.”
Senator Kid Rock. The idea seems so…. un-Pataki-like. How did it even become a kernel of an idea in Pataki’s head? At what point, I needed to know, did he decide that this was the train he would board.
“I was asked about it by TMZ, one of their reporters,” he says. “They caught me and said ‘What do you think about the possibility of Kid Rock running? And as I just tried to explain I think it’s a good idea to have people from different backgrounds.”