Celebrities are a fickle bunch. And in the world of politics, that’s epecially the case. During the 2008 campaign, A-listers came out in full force for then-candidate Barack Obama. Through concerts, autograph signings and speeches on the campaign trail, they were successful in convincing many of their fans that the junior senator from Illinois was the right man at the right time.
Now, with President Obama’s re-election campaign in full swing, he is again tapping the celebrity well to deliver votes and financial support for November 6. This campaign plan was revealed in a private memo to donors. The list of more than 190 well-known people—including dozens of top Black celebrities—was accidentally leaked to The Tennessean newspaper in Nashville.
Shortly after the leak, Obama campaign spokeswoman Addie Whisenant downplayed the list, saying in a written statement that it was simply names of confirmed surrogates and others the campaign hopes to get. “This was a wish list of people and groups who may be asked to participate in a campaign event,” she said. “Not everyone on this list has been contacted or agreed to help the campaign. We’ve already received robust support and participation from surrogates across the country, and that will only ramp up.”
But no one can deny that celebrity endorsements will be an important part of Obama’s campaign strategy. When it comes to tapping top names, Obama has arguably eclipsed all former presidents, including Bill Clinton. Experts believe that the president’s liberal views, celebrity looks and cool demeanor (he drinks beer, loves sports and can even hold a note) make him an A-lister draw.
He’s already financially capitalized on his popularity with the rich and famous with frequent visits to Los Angeles to hold big-dollar fundraisers. And with a close race shaping up in key swing states between the president and his presumed Republican challenger Mitt Romney, an appearance or performance by a top celebrity could tip the scale in Obama’s favor by increasing turnout, especially among younger voters.
Here’s a peek at the Black celebs on Obama’s target surrogate list:
Shawn (Jay-Z) Carter
Bobby Ray Simmons (aka B.o.B)
Alonzo Mourning Jr.
Michael B. Jordan
Read more in the July 2012 issue of EBONY Magazine on page 27.