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The True and Bonkers Story About When Kid Rock Met Mitt Romney

Former deputy campaign manager disputes accounts of policy discussion

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney greets musician Kid Rock during a campaign rally at the Royal Oak Theatre in Michigan in 2012. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images file photo)
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney greets musician Kid Rock during a campaign rally at the Royal Oak Theatre in Michigan in 2012. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images file photo)

As Detroit singer and rapper Kid Rock continues to tease a run for the Senate, a former Mitt Romney campaign aide told the story about how the man known as the American Bad Ass met with the man who could have been the first Mormon President.

Katie Packer Beeson served as Romney’s deputy campaign manager in 2012 and is a native of Michigan, where Romney grew up and Kid Rock calls home.

Packer Beeson pushed back on a story in Politico Magazine this weekend that described a 2012 meeting between Romney and Kid Rock, whose real name is Robert Ritchie and who goes by “Bobby.”

“The way the article characterized it was to create this impression that he’s not just a rock star, he’s a policy wonk,” she said. “At the time he was honest and humble and said ‘I’m not super-educated.’”

As it turns out, Packer Beeson’s father, who represented auto dealers, represented Ritchie’s car-dealer father.

In an interview with Roll Call, Packer Beeson disputed the description of Ritchie’s meeting with the former Republican presidential nominee, in which Ritchie was described as asking Romney a series of policy questions. She said she was not contacted for Politico’s story.

As Packer Beeson tells it, the campaign reached out to Ritchie to play a show the night before the state’s primary.

At the time, Romney was facing criticism in Michigan for having written an op-ed entitled “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt,” about the state’s troubled automotive industry and calls for a bailout.

“It wasn’t the idea he had these policy chops or some great voter list,” she said. “He was uncomfortable doing [the concert] because he hadn’t met Mitt.”

Packer said she and Romney went to Ritchie’s house where they met with Ritchie and his girlfriend.

“He was very sort of humble. And acknowledged he didn’t know a lot of sort of policy and didn’t pretend he was some policy expert,” Packer Beeson said.

She said Ritchie asked about what Romney would do for the military, since Ritchie has performed at military bases.

The second thing Ritchie asked was what Romney, whose father George ran American Motors and was governor of Michigan, would do for the state.

“And That was the list,” Packer Beeson said. “It wasn’t like ‘Where do you stand on global warming?’ and ‘What do you feel about the trade deficit?’”

Packer Beeson said that Romney did delve into policy during the meeting both on where he stood with respect to military and Michigan.

“That was Mitt sharing policy,” she said. “That wasn’t Bobby showing a deep understanding.”

Packer said that Ritchie was a strong supporter of Romney and he later would tell Rolling Stone that Romney was “the most decent motherf—er I’ve ever met in my life.”

Still, Packer said as a Michigan native, she cares about who the state sends to the Senate and hopes voters focus as much on the character of candidates.

“I hope we’re not moving into this phase where all people care about is
celebrity,” she said. “It doesn’t really change how government is executed.”

While Packer believes Ritchie has a shot, she is skeptical he actually wants the job.

“I know a little bit of his lifestyle and I don’t think he wants to come to Washington,” she said. “I think this has a lot to do with selling albums.”

Of course, Packer, like her former boss Romney, was a fierce critic of President Donald Trump’s candidacy and ran an anti-Trump PAC last year. Trump would become the first Republican since George H.W. Bush to win Michigan.

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