Super Tuesday: Who the stars are backing
The stars come out for Super Tuesday. A report by US correspondent Reinout van Wagtendonk.
In the US presidential race, Super Tuesday is looming - hopeful candidates have just one last frenzied day of campaigning to win over voters. Primaries take place in 24 states on Tuesday - and the rival candidates are banking on a good result to secure their partys' nomination.
It's a narrow race between Hilary Clinton and Barak Obama for the Democrats with John McCain leading the Republican pack. Apart from the normal political arsenal of stump speeches, handshakes and kissing babies, endorsements can make a huge difference in a candidate's chances for success.
Oprah backs Obama
Oprah Winfrey may be the most famous star who came out for a candidate: Barack Obama in her case. Oprah's tour with him through the first three primary states - Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina - some two months ago drew enormous attention to Obama. Since then, the talk show queen did not travel with him again which some observers saw as a reponse to negative reactions from viewers in her largely female TV-audience who disapproved of her taking sides, or of her choosing a man over a woman.
But just before Super Tuesday, Oprah joined a large Obama rally in Los Angeles and said that she does not betray women or anybody else anybody with her endorsement...
"So I say I am not a traitor. I'm just following my own truth, and that truth has led me to Barack Obama."
Politicians who endorse have less of a problem with an audience than entertainers sometimes do. Obama's support from senator Edward Kennedy is valuable in a different way: the 75-year old represents the liberal establishment in Washington. Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the legendary president John F Kennedy, has never before linked her father's legacy to another politician. She does so now, in speeches and an advertisement.
"People always tell me how my father inspired them. I feel that same excitement now. Barack Obama can lift America and make us one nation again."
Hillary Clinton gets black and Latino endorsement
Hillary Clinton has her own list with celebrity endorsements, including several other members of the Kennedy clan. Her most famous star supporter is probably her husband, Bill Clinton. The former president is such a strong personality and magnet for attention, not always positive, that he sometimes seems to overshadow Hillary, which is not what somebody auditioning to become the most powerful person in the world really wants. An important endorsement for Hillary Clinton came from Maya Angelou, an African American writer and poet highly respected in the black community. Angelou, too, believes so strongly in her candidate that she also recorded an ad.
"Let me tell you about my girl, Hillary Clinton. As a child, Hillary Clinton was taught that all God's children are equal. So as a mother...."
But at least in South Carolina, in spite of Maya Angelou, the black vote went largely to Obama. Hillary Clinton this weekend received an important endorsement in the Latino-community, in which she is already strong. Bill Richardson, the governor of New Mexico and until last month himself a presidential candidate, the only Latino in the race, he endorsed Clinton.
Sometimes one of your high profile endorsers says something embarrassing. Without Chuck Norris, the actor from the TV-series Walker, Texas Ranger and lots of karate films, Mike Huckabee would never have received as much attention and votes in the Republican primaries. But Norris's attack on John McCain, based on McCain's relatively advanced age proved awkward. According to Chuck Norris, a president ages three times faster than the average person...
"And I'm thinking now, if John take over the presidency at 72, and if he ages three to one, how old will he be in four years? He'll be 84 years old. And can he handle that kind of pressure?"
Rocky support for McCain
Age is more or less off-limits to attacks, if only because candidates don't want to offend the disproportionate number of older voters in US elections. Mike Huckabee had to apologize for his supporter's remarks, but John McCain took it in stride. He had his own famous endorser from Hollywood fight films...
"Now that Sylvester Stallone has endorsed me, I'm sending him over to take care of Chuck Norris right away."
4 February 2008
[Copyright Radio Netherlands 2008]