Celebrities Turn Out To Support Their Favorite Democratic Presidential Candidate

Jan 24, 2020
Originally published on January 24, 2020 9:24 am
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Reality TV star Jonathan Van Ness of the "Queer Eye" team is headed to Iowa this weekend. He'll join up with Elizabeth Warren on the campaign trail. Van Ness is just one of a number of pop culture figures stumping for Democratic candidates in these final days before the caucuses. NPR's Juana Summers has more on why campaigns turn to celebrities.

JUANA SUMMERS, BYLINE: She's a rapper in her 20s who was born and raised in the Bronx, and he's a 70-something from Brooklyn who wants a political revolution. Cardi B and Bernie Sanders sat down to talk politics at a sleek Detroit nail salon. The video went viral.

(SOUNDBITE OF YOUTUBE VIDEO, "BERNIE X CARDI B")

CARDI B: Are you scared that you will get so many powerful people upset? I don't know.

BERNIE SANDERS: (Laughter) Cardi, that's what I've been doing my whole life.

SUMMERS: And on the ground in Iowa, Mandy Moore, who stars as Rebecca Pearson on NBC's "This Is Us," took on a supporting role for the Buttigieg campaign.

MANDY MOORE: I have this superstar fake TV husband, Jack Pearson, who's like, you know, the perfect man. And when I really stop to think about Pete, it's funny because I don't think that Hollywood even knows what to do with him.

SUMMERS: Halfway across the country in Los Angeles, the entrepreneur Andrew Yang collaborated with creator Donald Glover. Yang was asked by reporters which song by Childish Gambino, Glover's musical alter ego, was his favorite.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THIS IS AMERICA")

CHILDISH GAMBINO: (Rapping) This is America.

SUMMERS: He admitted that the answer, the hit song "This is America," may be, well, a little obvious. Yang is also getting support from Dave Chappelle. He's performing two shows for supporters in South Carolina next week. And recently, Judge Judy stepped out of her TV courtroom and onto the campaign trail. Judge Judith Sheindlin is backing Mike Bloomberg.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MIKE BLOOMBERG: Actually, I had Judge Judy on the campaign bus with us going to five cities in Texas.

SUMMERS: And apparently, they enjoyed some Texas barbecue together.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BLOOMBERG: She's a really small, short woman, and she ate more than I did. She just loved it.

SUMMERS: In Joe Biden's camp there's Olympic figure skater Michelle Kwan and actor Vivica A. Fox. I wanted to know whether celebrities actually have the power to persuade, so I turned to someone who's been in the trenches. Adrienne Elrod is a Democratic strategist. She worked with surrogates on Hillary Clinton's campaign.

ADRIENNE ELROD: It enables you to bring a totally different audience into the fold. And plus, you know, celebrity surrogates just bring a whole level of excitement to the campaign trail that, you know, frankly, some of these politicians don't bring, you know? But they've got to be authentic to the candidate themselves.

SUMMERS: U.S. Women's Soccer champion Megan Rapinoe has been fighting for equal pay in her sport. She's known almost as much for that as for winning the World Cup, so it was a natural topic of conversation when she got on the phone with Senator Elizabeth Warren.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MEGAN RAPINOE: I would love to endorse you and be on your team and help in any way that I can, so consider me Team Warren.

ELIZABETH WARREN: I think we got this, Megan.

SUMMERS: Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar got asked about some of the high-wattage figures jumping into the presidential race. She was campaigning in Waterloo, Iowa, and keeping the focus local.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

AMY KLOBUCHAR: I go, celebrities? No, I don't need celebrities in Iowa. I mean, I have one. The mayor of Fertile, she's endorsed me. She's, like, a cultural icon with the name of that town.

SUMMERS: Yes, the town of Fertile, Iowa, population of less than 400 people. The mayor is Joyce Russell. She backed Amy Klobuchar last year. Juana Summers, NPR News, Washington.

(SOUNDBITE OF PHOTAY'S "INHARMONIOUS SLOG") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.