NEW TEXAN TED NUGENT STILL A ‘MADMAN':
May 16, 2005
CRAWFORD, Texas – With a slight breeze blowing the ponytail that drapes halfway down his back, Ted Nugent draws his bow and aims at one of a dozen lifelike deer figures he uses for practice until hunting season begins.
The arrow pierces the faux animal “right in the vitals” for a clean, quick kill, he says. Then he darts to the gun range on another part of his sprawling ranch, where he sets up bowling pins that soon will be blasted by a hail of bullets – another daily ritual.
At 56, Nugent is ever the “Motor City Madman” – the hyper rock star, avid hunter and outspoken National Rifle Association board member. But the newly relocated Texan can’t help but be amused by his newfound acceptance among more and more Americans.
“Isn’t it fascinating that without compromising a spit, that now those who traditionally despised me and all my NRA, Bambi-slaughtering lifestyle, now realize that my connection to the huge segment of America is something to instead of condemn and run away from, they might want to upgrade their level of that awareness and tap into it,” Nugent said.
Even the Secret Service is on board with him, Nugent told The Associated Press during a recent interview at his 300-acre ranch outside President Bush’s adopted hometown.
Three dozen agents took target practice last month at Nugent’s ranch, he said. They initiated the visit, bringing machine guns and other government-issued weapons and ammunition – and spent hours having fun at taxpayers’ expense, Nugent said with a laugh.
Secret Service officials would not confirm or deny the incident.
“(We were) just shooting and shooting and shooting and talking and went down to the river … just like a bunch of guys hanging out, but these were all the world’s greatest warriors, every one of them,” Nugent said.
He moved to Texas two years ago after mold at his home near Jackson, Mich., caused severe health problems for his family.
Nugent, his wife and teenage son chose Crawford, a one-stoplight town of 700 residents near Waco, because of its size and acclaimed school system – not because the president has a ranch there. Also, Nugent had friends in Central Texas from years of hunting trips.
Nugent still travels – his summer tour starts in July – and performs for U.S. troops. He also puts on a children’s camp each summer, goes on African hunting safaris and films his reality television series in which contestants learn taxidermy and sit in a swamp, among other bizarre challenges.
But when he’s home, Nugent is involved in the community. He played “The Star-Spangled Banner” on his guitar at an election-night party.
In January he held a concert in the Crawford school gym, raising more than $30,000 so the marching band could perform at Bush’s inauguration parade in Washington, D.C. He played his 1977 hit “Cat Scratch Fever” and other favorites.
Nugent may not hang out with Bush when both are in town, but the rocker says he has supported him – for the most part – since his first run for governor in 1994.
When Nugent attended a private Washington party after the 2000 presidential election, Bush hugged him and said “just keep doing what you’re doing,” he said.
“It was hysterical as a stamp of approval to all the status-quo, old guard political people that you can be bold and brazen, that you can make a statement … and the president will still embrace you,” Nugent said.
White House spokesman Taylor Gross declined to say whether Bush and Nugent are friends but said “the president appreciates the support of any American that feels strongly about his compassionate conservative agenda and his plans to make America a safer, better place.”
Nugent has developed a friendship with Republican Gov. Rick Perry. He said the two send e-mails and talk regularly. They met a few years ago through a mutual hunting pal, and Nugent plans to help Perry’s re-election campaign next year.
“Ted Nugent is a great American patriot, and the governor is proud to have his support,” said Scott Haywood, a Perry spokesman.
But having Nugent in your corner can be tricky.
Nugent said he was flown to Minnesota last year to introduce Bush at a campaign rally with sportsmen. But he said he was bumped from the event after a radio interview the night before, when he blasted Bush’s immigration policy and Mexico President Vicente Fox.
Nugent said he was “raving about the good part of the president but also being honest about some of the failures. … Somebody’s got to call a spade a spade.”
Nugent made some waves at last month’s NRA convention in Houston, walking on stage with an assault weapon in each hand. In a spirited speech about self-defense, he said:
“I want the bad guys dead. No court case. No parole. No early release. I want ’em dead. Get a gun and when they attack you, shoot ’em.”
Two years ago, a Michigan festival canceled Nugent’s concert after he used a racial slur during a live radio interview. But a jury recently ordered the festival to pay Nugent $100,000 in damages, saying it breached their contract. Nugent said he used the word while quoting a black Motown musician.
Nugent says his critics have often tried to use his profanity-laced tirades against him. But increasingly, he says, he’s either hanged them with their own rope or won them over.
“They’ve come to learn to really enjoy my rightness, both my political right-wingness and my correct rightness,” he said. “I have literally taken hard-core, fundraising anti’s and turned them into pro-gun, pro-hunting people – not across the board but enough to make a difference.”
Ted Nugent: http://www.tednugent.com
Courtesy of www.ap.org