Paul Van Dam's been cycling across the state to get his point across. Now, the U.S. Senate candidate is strumming and singing for votes.
But don't expect the former state attorney general's new country-style ditty — written for and dedicated to Utah's junior senator, Bob Bennett — to crack the Top 40 charts anytime soon.
It's a little bit corny, a little bit mock-n-droll — or a little bit condemnatory, a little bit reckless-n-cruel, depending on your political point of view.
Van Dam's latest message should be music to the ears for Utahns who believe Bennett should retire rather than return to Washington for a third term. But Bennett's supporters might believe the senator's opponent hit some flat notes in his new stump song.
In the minute-long jingle, called "Won't Ya Come Home, Bob Bennett" and sung to the 1902 fiddle tune "Bill Bailey, Won't You Please Come Home," Van Dam croons on about Bennett contributing to the rising national debt and blasts him for the possible resumption of nuclear weapons testing. Van Dam even claims Bennett is responsible for Utahns suffering from Downwinders Syndrome.
Bentley Mitchell, Van Dam's communications director, describes the song as one that is "humorous but deals with some serious issues." It's supposed to be critical, albeit somewhat tongue-in-cheek.
"If you hear it on the radio, you'd probably laugh and almost drive off the road," Mitchell said. "We try to run a serious campaign and have a little fun along the way."
Bennett isn't laughing.
"If," Bennett said, "this is Paul's attempt to keep the campaign lighthearted by falsely accusing me of wanting to set off a nuclear bomb and being personally to blame for Utah's cancer victims, this isn't the way to do it."
Here are the lyrics for those who'd like to sing along at home:
Won't ya come home Bob Bennett?
Won't ya come home?
We've groaned his whole term long.
Ya busted the budget, Bobby.
Gonna set off a bomb,
And you know that's just plain wrong.
Remember them Utahns, Bobby, who suffered so,
With cancer and such misery?
Well, you know you're to blame
And, ain't it a shame.
Bob Bennett, won't you please come home?
This is Paul Van Dam and I approve of this message.
Please vote for me.
Van Dam has played the song along the stumping trail recently — though not while cycling on his recumbent tandem bike — and, according to Mitchell, it's also aired on the radio in southern Utah.
The tight-budgeted campaign, which is compensating for poor pre-election polling support (trailing by 39 percentage points at last check) with some creative campaigning efforts (e.g., Tour de Utah bike trip, online debate attempt), hopes to play it on the Wasatch Front airwaves a few times before the Nov. 2 election.