There is the “ground war” in politics, where candidates campaign for grassroots support. Then there is the “air war,’’ which is measured by the number of television commercials a candidate has.
There’s another dimension to campaign 2012. Let’s call it the “celebrity war.” Both President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney have a following among the Hollywood glitterati Star power provides glamour to a political campaign. It helps bring in big donations and celebrities can provide the entertainment that can please crowds, and attract them, too.
Who wouldn’t want to hear “The Boss,” Bruce Springsteen? He’s appeared with former President Bill Clinton in October in rallies in Iowa and Ohio. In Charlottesville, Virginia, in the middle of a swing state, he let loose with a free “Get Out the Vote” concert as part of an Obama rally.
On his website, Springsteen, who has lent his voice to the plight of the working class, endorsed the president. This isn’t the first time that Mr. Springsteen has lifted his guitar on behalf of Obama. He also did so in the 2008 election.
And who can forget Clint Eastwood’s performance at the Republican National Convention where he lambasted Obama by talking to an empty chair. That became one of his more memorable performances. Eastwood, who held political office himself as the mayor of Carmel, California, has long been a Republican supporter. Country singer Trace Adkins and comedian and TV host Jeff Foxworthy, both of whom celebrate their rural roots, have also opened for Romney at campaign rallies.
While both sides have been welcoming celebrities to their fold, when it comes to sheer star power, Obama and the Democrats have clearly outpaced Romney and the Republican ticket. Hollywood has long been a bastion of Democratic support, and this year is no different.
Open Secrets, the website that tracks campaign donations, recently began to gather data on celebrity donors and found that celebrities have donated just under $600,000 directly to the President’s re-election campaign, another $2.4 million to the Democratic National Committee and $2.5 million to Priorities USA, the superpac backing Obama.
By contrast, Romney has attracted only $16,000 from celebrities, according to Open Secrets, which had no information on celebrity donations to the Republican party or pro-Romney superpacs. In fact, of the top twelve celebrity donors identified by Open Secrets, only one Republican – Vince McMahon, the wrestling titan whose wife, Linda, is running for the U.S. Senate – makes the cut.
Strolling down the red carpet for Obamaare the glamour couple of pop music – Jay-Z and Beyonce. Beyonce crooned “At Last” at Obama’s request at his inauguration and Salon.com reports that the two have raised “millions” for Democrats. Actor Morgan Freeman recently narrated an Obama ad and has given $1 million to Democrats. Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, another part of Hollywood royalty have given over $173,000 to Democrats in this election cycle. Fellow royal couple Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw have also written big six-figure checks, while Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith are also donors. | More: Celeb contributions to Obama, OpenSecrets.org
Eva Longoria, of “Desperate Housewives” fame is a co-chair of the Obama campaign and has been part of the campaign’s outreach to Latinos. Further Hollywood glamor comes in the form of Leonardo Di Caprio and George Clooney, long a Democratic stalwart. Madonna, Nicki Minaj, Gwen Stefani and, yes, even Snooki, of Jersey Shore fame are in the Obama camp. So are Bill Gates, Will Ferrell, Samuel L. Jackson, James Taylor, Barbra Streisand, Quentin Tarantino, Ben Stiller, Scarlett Johansson and talk show host Bill Maher.
Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker in “Star Wars,’’ is an Obama fan, likening Obama to Obi-Wan Kanobi, the Jedi warrior.
Prominent in the Romney camp is Jon Voight, longtime actor and conservative activist. Olympic skater Kristi Yamaguchi is another celebrity donor. From the world of sports also comes hockey legend Bobby Orr, baseball All-Star Alex Rodriguez and NFL quarterbacks Peyton Manning and John Elway. | More: Celeb contributions to Romney, OpenSecrets.org.
Romney, who has more of a following among businessmen than among actors, still has a few to his name. Actor Robert Duvall held a fund-raiser at his Virginia estate that raised over $800,000, according to Salon. And an eclectic group of rock musicians are in the Romney camp, including Kid Rock, Ted Nugent and Kiss frontman Gene Simmons.
If Obama can claim Spielberg, Romney has another mega-producer, Jerry Bruckheimer. Lindsay Lohan and Donald Trump can add a bit of odd-ball color to the more button-up Romney-Ryan ticket. Muscleman Chuck Norris, another Hollywood conservative, issued a “dire warning” in making his Romney endorsement that an Obama victory could lead to “1000 years of darkness.”
Perhaps that’s a bit of hype. But Hollywood has never been known for shrinking from excess.