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Taking a Chance on McCain

Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Benny Andersson, Agnetha Faltskog, and Bjorn Ulvaeus are ABBA.

Updated 7:03 p.m.
By Juliet Eilperin
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -- Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) may not be willing to change his stance on Iraq, the economy or abortion in the course of this fiercely contested presidential campaign. But he is changing his theme music.

"I'm tired of 'Johnny B. Good,'" he confessed to reporters this afternoon, referring to the song that concludes each and every one of his stump speeches.

When asked what he might offer as a substitute, McCain has a ready answer: Abba.

"How about, 'Take a Chance on Me?'" he said. "I just thought of that. Why don't we do that?"

Some might see using a 1970s Swedish disco group as a political risk, but not John McCain.

"Everybody claims they don't like Abba, but they sold more records than anybody else in the world," he asserted. (Some reporters questioned this assertion; Post research editor Alice Crites notes that Abba has sold 370 million albums, which is fewer than Elvis and the Beatles.)

Now, even McCain has his limits when it comes to Abba tunes. "We don't want to use 'Dancing Queen.' That's not the theme we want for our campaign," he cautioned.

McCain's aides spent the afternoon mulling over the candidate's suggestion. Senior aide Mark Salter: "There are many things I admire about John McCain, but not his taste in music."

Adding to the confusion is the fact that not everyone in the campaign appeared to be familiar with the Scandinavian cult band's work.

"I've never heard of Abba," remarked former Texas senator Phill Gramm, who is campaigning here in South Carolina on McCain's behalf. "But I've heard of the Beatles. Elvis. Johnny Cash."

At the end of McCain's midday event here at the Pepper Geddings Recreation Center, the song "Johnny B. Goode" started skipping, and staffers pulled the plug, putting on a Motown tune instead.

And by the final McCain rally in Charleston in the evening, the decision on a new tune had been made.

As he descended from the stage on the decommissioned U.S. Aircraft Carrier Yorktown, his traditionally closing music gave way to the jaunty strains of Abba's "Take a Chance on Me," and McCain was swallowed up by the crowd.

By Web Politics Editor  |  January 18, 2008; 7:03 PM ET
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