Star power ig­nites cam­paign ral­lies

Non-po­lit­i­cal ap­pear­ances build buzz

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ARTS & LIFE - By Matthew Daly

WASH­ING­TON — Base­ball great Hank Aaron is a Barack Obama guy. Golf leg­end Jack Nick­laus is in Mitt Rom­ney’s camp.

From ath­letes and as­tro­nauts to singers and Hol­ly­wood stars, a grow­ing line of celebri­ties is turn­ing up at fancy dinners and ral­lies to build sup­port and get out the vote for Obama or Rom­ney, the pres­i­dent’s Repub­li­can chal­lenger.

Obama has en­ter­tain­ers like Bruce Spring­steen, Katy Perry, Ge­orge Clooney, Bey­oncé and Jay-Z.

Rom­ney’s sup­port­ers in­clude Clint East­wood, mu­si­cians Kid Rock and Lee Greenwood and comedian Den­nis Miller. Of­ten the Demo­cratic ticket at­tracts younger and glitzier stars.

Both cam­paigns have spent huge amounts of time and ef­fort mak­ing sure their ral­lies fea­ture open­ing acts that re­in­force a cam­paign mes­sage, whether it’s the econ­omy, health care, vet­er­ans or some other is­sue.

Nick­laus, who now de­signs golf cour­ses, teed up Rom­ney at a cam­paign event near Colum­bus, Ohio.

The golfer said he’s had to lay off work­ers be­cause of the strug­gling econ­omy. “We can’t keep do­ing what we’ve been do­ing. We have to look at the prob­lems at hand and change them,” he said.

On the Demo­cratic side, Pearl Jam front­man Eddie Ved­der ripped into Rom­ney at an Obama fundraiser in Florida. Ved­der said he was up­set by Rom­ney’s caught-on-tape com­ments that 47 per cent of Amer­i­cans con­sider them­selves vic­tims and en­ti­tled to gov­ern­ment help. If Rom­ney wins the White House, “none of those 47 per cent of peo­ple would have a voice,” Ved­der said.

Aaron, who wore No. 44 for the Mil­wau­kee and At­lanta Braves, urged a crowd in Wis­con­sin to re-elect Obama, pres­i­dent No. 44. Ap­pear­ing with Obama in Mil­wau­kee, Aaron said one of the most touch­ing mo­ments of his life was when Obama was elected as the coun­try’s first black pres­i­dent.

“As one who wore the num­ber 44 on his back for decades, I ask you to join me in help­ing the 44th pres­i­dent of the United States hit a grand slam,” said Aaron, the last Ne­gro League player to com­pete on a ma­jor league ros­ter.

Af­ter re­tired space-shut­tle as­tro­naut Sid Gu­tier­rez trum­peted Repub­li­can vice-pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Paul Ryan in Florida last month, Obama coun­tered with his own fa­mous for­mer as­tro­naut. For­mer Ohio Se­na­tor John Glenn, the first Amer­i­can to or­bit the Earth, ap­peared at a rally with the pres­i­dent.

Singer Will.i.am, who wrote the song Yes We Can for Obama’s 2008 run, also was on stage that day. Obama joked that the singer “some­times looks like he’s been to outer space,” while Glenn “has ac­tu­ally been to outer space.”

Celebrity warm-up acts may draw news cov­er­age, but they’re un­likely to have a last­ing ef­fect on the elec­tion, said Dar­rell West, di­rec­tor of gov­er­nance stud­ies at the Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion think-tank.

Even so, ap­pear­ances by high-pro­file sup­port­ers can val­i­date can­di­dates “by tak­ing them out of the po­lit­i­cal realm into pop­u­lar cul­ture,” West said.

“Vot­ers are cyn­i­cal about can­di­dates and think they will say any­thing to win,” West said. “Hav­ing a non-po­lit­i­cal open­ing act gives politi­cians cred­i­bil­ity at a time of mas­sive cyn­i­cism.”

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS PHO­TOS

Celebri­ties such as Kid Rock (above, at a Repub­li­can rally) and Bey­oncé (an Obama

sup­porter) help raise aware­ness and con­tri­bu­tions to cam­paigns.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.