DEFIANCE, Ohio—Mitt Romney's campaign rally here at a high school football stadium took an unusual turn Thursday night when the Republican nominee received a surprise endorsement from what could only be described as a rather unexpected guest.
Several thousand supporters were listening to a pre-rally performance by country star John Rich, when Rich interrupted his set to invite a "special guest" to the stage.
The surprise visitor: the rock star turned occasional actor Meat Loaf.
Dressed in a baggy black suit accented with multicolor sequins, the singer, who rose to fame from his star turn in "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," dramatically stormed the stage to the shock of many of those in the audience, who turned to each other with questioning faces.
The aging rocker, perhaps best known for his 1994 hit "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)," performed a series of power ballads familiar only to the most devoted Meat Loaf fans. In between, he offered a meandering and sometimes slurred endorsement of the GOP nominee, explaining that he'd never before publicly backed a political candidate.
'This is the most important election in the history of the United States," Meat Loaf explained. "Because there has storm clouds come over the United States. There is thunderstorms over Europe. There are hail storms--and I mean major hail storms--in the Middle East. There are storms brewing through China, through Asia, through everywhere… I want you to know there is one man who will stand tall in this country and fight the storm and bring the United States back to what it should be. Gov. Mitt Romney!"
Romney, the singer continued after another song, has "backbone." He urged the audience to contact Democrats and ask them to back Romney's bid for the presidency--adding that he'd been doing the same "for a year."
Meat Loaf invited audience members on stage to wave Romney signs behind him as he performed a last dramatic number—the words of which were hard to make out. In the far backfield of the football field, Stuart Stevens, Romney's senior strategist, turned to reporters, shrugged and smiled.
But it wasn't just people in the crowd who were surprised to see Meat Loaf. Taking the stage a few moments later, Romney seemed as surprised as anyone to have received the singer's backing.
"Meat Loaf was here," the GOP candidate said. "Can you believe it?"
At the end of the rally, Meat Loaf returned to the stage, along with Rich and Randy Owen, lead singer of the country band Alabama to join Romney in a rendition of "America the Beautiful"—one of the GOP candidate's favorite hymns.
In something of an odd coincidence, Romney's appearance came just hours after his wife, Ann, appeared on the "Rachael Ray" show and cooked the candidate's favorite meal: meatloaf.