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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Obama’s celebrity support strong with four days to go

Published: October 31, 2008
Section: Arts, Etc.

With the Presidential election just four days away, political campaigners are showing no signs of slowing down in the race to ensure that their preferred candidate wins.

After all, “it isn’t over until the fat lady sings,” or until you garner the public support of a few big-name celebrities as many campaigns and voting drives have shown.

Barack Obama’s campaign brought out former Sopranos star Edie Falco yesterday in Greensboro, NC, to encourage people to volunteer for the campaign, even though the road to the election is rapidly shrinking.

Falco is just the beginning of a long list of celebrities who have leant their public persona to the cause of their favorite politician. From actor Robert DeNiro to media mogul Oprah Winfrey to rapper 50 Cent to NASCAR legend Junior Johnson, celebrities of every type, have been coming out to show their support for Senator Obama.

While the entertainment industry tends to be overwhelmingly liberal, there are a few celebrities who have expressed their right wing leanings in spite of peer pressure to the contrary. Actors Sylvester Stallone, Tom Selleck, and Rip Torn have all voiced their support for McCain. However, these celebrity names hardly lend the same glamorous air to the candidate as those endorsements garnered by the Obama campaign.

One endorsement of McCain that does stand out in particular and took many by surprise is that of reggaeton singer Daddy Yankee.

Announcing his endorsement in a surprise appearance with Senator McCain at a Phoenix high school, Daddy Yankee said, “I believe in his ideals and his proposals. He’s been a fighter for the Hispanic community. He’s been a fighter for the immigration issue.”

Perhaps the most comical celebrity endorsement of a Republican candidate was Chuck Norris’s endorsement of Mike Huckabee. The candidate even went so far as to film videos with the celebrity that utilized “Chuck Norris facts”— satirical statements about Norris that typically hyperbolize his manliness, strength and virility. One Huckabee-approved campaign ad features the governor and Norris relaying facts about each other back and forth. While Huckabee states that “when Chuck Norris does a push-up, he isn’t lifting himself up; he’s pushing the earth down,” Norris replies, “Mike is a principled, authentic conservative.”

However, Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin has admitted to the difficulty the right has experienced in securing celebrity endorsements. At a fundraiser last month, Palin said, “We were making a list of who are some celebrity singers who could come out and help us and, gosh, for the life of us, the pickings were slim there. Who’s quasi-conservative out there in the celebrity land?”

However, some celebrities have decided to remain removed from partisan politics and simply encourage people to get out to the polls Tuesday. British singer, Joss Stone, will be teaming up with the non-partisan organization, HeadCount, to register voters and encourage them to vote.

Declare Yourself, another non-partisan organization with the goal of bringing out the youth vote, has released a series of popular viral videos featuring a slew of top Hollywood actors, ranging from Harrison Ford to Shia LeBeouf, that uses reverse psychology to get out the vote.

Whether it’s simply popping up in a photograph beside a candidate or personally writing a New York Times column lauding the candidate’s platform (as Bruce Springsteen did four years ago in support of Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry) or becoming a YouTube star in their own right, it seems that celebrities are becoming a integral component of any political campaign. We’ll just have to wait for Tuesday’s results to see if this component has a value greater than increased publicity and is capable of actually swaying political beliefs.