Celebs turn out to stump for candidates

Miami HeraldOctober 27, 2008 

Hollywood celebrities and political heavyweights are flocking to Florida to give both presidential candidates a boost as the state enters the final week of early voting and the homestretch of a seemingly endless presidential campaign.

Stumping for Sen. John McCain: former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Elizabeth Hasselbeck of ABC's The View.

In Sen. Barack Obama's corner: Hollywood actor Matt Damon and Jason Alexander, who played George Costanza on NBC's Seinfeld.

Whether the big-time names translate into a bonanza at the ballot box is no guarantee, say experts and celebrities themselves.

Michael Heaney, a professor of political science at the University of Florida, said that while celebrity cache has minimal sway when it comes to voters choosing a candidate, it helps build excitement around a campaign and may bring more people to the polls.

''What you're talking about is getting more people out to rallies and making more people feel included,'' Heaney said. 'Most of the effect is on getting someone's attention. A person isn't going to vote for Barack Obama because Matt Damon says, 'Vote for Barack Obama,' but they might be more likely to turnout.''

Said Bowling Green State University political science professor David J. Jackson: "I do not find a lot of evidence for persuasion.''

Nonetheless, with early voting continuing to bring out large crowds throughout the state, both McCain and Obama put their A-list celebrities and politicians to work all over Florida in the waning days of the race.

On Sunday, Giuliani stopped in Fort Lauderdale and Miami to bash Obama and praise McCain. Earlier in the day, he and Cindy McCain knocked on doors of voters in West Palm Beach. Sen. Joe Lieberman courted Jewish voters at a North Clearwater deli and a Jewish center at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

Guiliani's visit attracted a gaggle of television cameras at stops in Fort Lauderdale and Miami, where he criticized Obama and his running mate, Sen. Joe Biden. His remarks drew rousing applause at the Republican rallies.

''It means a lot to see him,'' said Joe Killian, who owns Killian Yacht & Ship Brokers. "When Mayor Giuliani is out here, you know it's heartfelt. He cares about the country. It helps me feel connected to the election. He's no phony.''

Read the complete story at miamiherald.com

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