February 19, 2008 / 12:29 AM / 11 years ago

Would Abba take a chance on McCain?

APPLETON, Wisconsin (Reuters) - Would Abba take a chance on him? Republican presidential front-runner John McCain is not so sure and said he opted against playing the 1977 hit “Take a Chance on Me” by the Swedish group at his campaign rallies because of licensing and other concerns.

Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain (R-AZ) campaigns during a town hall meeting at the Experimental Aircraft Association Museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin February 15, 2008. REUTERS/Allen Fredrickson

“It’s more difficult to play ‘let’s take a chance on me’ than I thought,” the four-term Arizona senator told reporters aboard his campaign plane.

“It gets expensive in a big hurry and if you’re not careful you can alienate some Swedes,” he joked. “If word gets out to Stockholm that we’re using Abba music, then there’ll be a worsening in U.S.-Swedish relations.”

The hit disco song, which begins “If you change your mind, I’m the first in line,” could sum up McCain’s courtship of the powerful conservative wing of the Republican Party.

Some conservative Republicans distrust McCain because of his moderate stances on illegal immigration and other issues. Getting their votes in November’s election to succeed President George W. Bush is one of McCain’s top challenges.

Popular music and hit songs are common on the campaign trail. Candidates use them to pump up crowds before they take the stage, and to subtly reinforce campaign messages. But they occasionally get a candidate in trouble.

McCain’s Republican rival, Mike Huckabee, found that out last week when the founder and songwriter of the rock band Boston claimed his 1970s hit “More Than a Feeling” was being used by the former Baptist preacher without his permission.

McCain said he also ran into problems while using the soundtrack from the 1976 Hollywood movie “Rocky.”

After playing the anthemic horns of the “Rocky” theme song at his rallies, the owner of the song’s copyright telephoned the McCain campaign to politely complain it was being used without permission, McCain said.

“It wasn’t a formal complaint or a letter. Someone just called on the phone and said ‘Hey, that’s our property,’” he said.

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