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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spin Control

Murray campaign pulls ‘Sinners & Saints’ video

Patty Murray's Senate campaign was forced to pull a video that jabbed GOP challenger Dino Rossi because it was using a Billy Joel song without legal permission.

"We have not received any complaints," campaign spokeswoman Alex Glass said today. "We did it out of an abundance of caution."

The one-minute video that was being circulated by the campaign and Democratic sources, and posted on YouTube, took a swipe at Rossi for comments attributed to him in a recent National Journal article. In describing his chances of winning over uncommitted voters, Rossi was quoted as saying: "In the old adage, there are saints and sinners and those who can be saved. The saints are with us, the sinners are not. And the ones that can be saved are the ones we will be talking to."

That prompted Democrats in Washington state to respond with "who you calling a sinner?"

The Murray campaign produced a quick video with some big business GOP supporters, questioning their sainthood, and Murray with veterans, moms and kids, asking if they were sinners.

In the background, they played portions of Joel's "Only the Good Die Young," including the lyrics:

They say there's a heaven for those who will wait
Some say it's better but I say it ain't
I'd rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints
The sinners are much more fun.

"It did seem to be the perfect song," Glass said...

But campaigns regularly run into trouble for taking music without permission. John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign was sued by Jackson Browne when it used "Running on Empty, and also had complaints for using songs by John Mellencamp, ABBA and Frankie Valli.

Ronald Reagan's 1984 re-election campaign had problems when it used Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A.," -- an odd choice because the song is about the problems of returning Vietnam vets and the campaign's theme was "Morning in America."

Two years ago, Washington state Democrats had to apologize for using the theme song from The Sopranos in a commercial knocking Rossi, who at the time was running for governor.

Glass said the Murray campaign talked with lawyers after  The Spokesman-Review called to check if they had received permission to use "Only the Good Die Young." They  hadn't, and lawyers said to pull the video.

The Spokesman-Review's political team keeps a critical eye on local, state and national politics.