During the 2008 presidential campaign, this song was used as the as the unofficial theme song for Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin. The Alaska governor originally earned the nickname "Sarah Barracuda" when she played basketball in high school, because of her fierce competitiveness. The name was revived after Palin became mayor of her hometown, Wasilla, in 1996 and it was played at the 2008 National Republican Convention, after she gave a speech. The next day, Ann and Nancy Wilson issued a statement that said: "The Republican campaign did not ask for permission to use the song, nor would they have been granted that permission. We have asked the Republican campaign publicly not to use our music. We hope our wishes will be honored."
Their wishes were not honored, and the song was played at the convention that night after their presidential nominee John McCain spoke and Palin joined him on stage. As the Republican campaign pointed out, they had obtained the proper performance rights to the song and were under no obligation to get further permission to use it (they would have if they wanted to use it in a commercial or video).
With no legal recourse, the Wilson sisters retaliated in the media, telling Entertainment Weekly: "Sarah Palin's views and values in NO WAY represent us as American women. We ask that our song 'Barracuda' no longer be used to promote her image. The song 'Barracuda' was written in the late 70s as a scathing rant against the soulless, corporate nature of the music business, particularly for women. While Heart did not and would not authorize the use of their song at the RNC, there's irony in Republican strategists' choice to make use of it there."
The song's co-writer Roger Fisher was also anti-Palin, but he saw things differently, telling Reuters he was "thrilled" that the song was being used as it was a win-win situation. He explained that while Heart gets publicity and royalties, the Republicans benefit from "the ingenious placement of a kick-ass song." He added that he would use some of the proceeds in a donation to the Obama campaign, and thus, "the Republicans are now supporting Obama."