hen you’re running for president, you’ll take any endorsement you can get—especially if it’s from a celebrity. In his uphill quest to overtake Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama is now stumping through Iowa with Oprah Winfrey, hoping that the queen of daytime TV can give him a needed boost (see Page 22). Oprah isn’t the only entertainer who’s making her political preference known. Last week, Barbra Streisand joined Rob Reiner and Magic Johnson in embracing Hillary Clinton. Bonnie Raitt, Danny Glover, and Jackson Browne have lined up for John Edwards. Woody Harrelson, Edward Norton, and Melissa Etheridge are supporting Dennis Kucinich. On the Republican side, Robert Duvall and Ron Silver are rooting for Rudy Giuliani. For sheer testosterone, Mike Huckabee has probably cornered the market. He’s won the backing of martial arts master Chuck Norris, gun-toting rocker Ted Nugent, and professional wrestler “Nature Boy” Ric Flair.
The question, of course, is whether these endorsements matter to voters. The evidence would suggest that they do not. In 2004, Madonna lent her star power to the candidacy of Democrat Wesley Clark, who promptly fell out of the running. Bruce Springsteen campaigned hard for John Kerry, and we know where that campaign wound up. I still recall the excitement that spread through the crowd at one glittery New York campaign rally for Walter Mondale in 1984 when James Taylor and Christie Brinkley strode into the room. With flashbulbs popping and revelers hanging on their every word, both spoke enthusiastically of the Mondale presidency to come. Shortly afterward, Mondale lost to Ronald Reagan in a historic landslide, carrying only his home state of Minnesota. But you never know: Without Taylor and Brinkley’s endorsement, Mondale might have lost Minnesota, too.
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