How Justin Bieber Became a Campaign Talking Point

The rambunctious teen pop star’s name has made its way into a Senate race in Virginia.

Singer Justin Bieber.
National Journal
Marina Koren
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Marina Koren
Feb. 4, 2014, 1:22 p.m.

Sen. Mark Warner made head­lines Tues­day when he de­clared that he is not, in fact, a Be­lieber — and he’s in fa­vor of de­port­ing the eponym­ous pop star for run­ning in­to trouble with the law.

The Demo­crat from Vir­gin­ia told FM 99 that he wants to add his name to a white­house.gov pe­ti­tion that calls for the de­port­a­tion of the Ca­na­dian sing­er Justin Bieber, who was ar­res­ted for driv­ing un­der the in­flu­ence last month. “As a dad with three daugh­ters, is there some place I can sign?” Warner said.

At the time of this writ­ing, the pe­ti­tion is near­ing 250,000 sig­na­tures, well over the 100,000 threshold that prompts a form­al re­sponse from the White House. Press sec­ret­ary Jay Car­ney said last week that such a re­sponse will come “re­l­at­ively soon.”

So­cial me­dia quickly lit up with the cries of hun­dreds fol­low­ing Warner’s re­marks: some of them, for whom the song “Baby” is not real mu­sic, in sup­port of Warner; oth­ers, mostly teen­age ad­mirers, in de­fense of the sing­er. And then, it got real — Sen­ate race-real.

The cam­paign for Ed Gillespie, the former White House aide who is chal­len­ging Warner for his seat this year, slammed the in­cum­bent Thursday in a note titled, “Sen­at­or Warner, It’s Time To Get Ser­i­ous.”

“Vir­gini­ans are los­ing jobs, los­ing hours at work, los­ing wages, and at risk of be­ing dropped from the health care plans they like. Since Ed entered the race for Sen­ate, Mark Warner hasn’t found time to talk about the Af­ford­able Care Act and its dis­astrous con­sequences on Twit­ter,” the mes­sage read. “But what is Mark Warner wor­ried about today? You won’t be­lieve it. Justin Bieber.”

The post in­cluded a tweet from Warner that read “It’s true. I’m not a #Be­lieber.”

Last week, Bieber made it in­to a press brief­ing by the White House press sec­ret­ary. This week, he’s be­come a talk­ing point in a con­gres­sion­al cam­paign. Wheth­er he can swing any voters re­mains to be seen.

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