Can Romney Trump Obama’s A-Listers?

By Shanae Staple

Beyoncé , Eva Longoria, George Clooney, Aretha Frankling… Obama is not short of celebrity supporters. His A-List Democrat fan base are a force to be reckoned with in the political marketing world. However, a growing number of prominent stars have shown their support for Mitt Romney in the run up to the 2012 Elections. From rock stars to Hollywood producers and the outspoken US Apprentice host, could Romney’s latest celebrity support lead him to a win?

Donald Trump has firmly been behind Romney since the final Republican presidential primary earlier this year. Despite considering running for office himself, Trump has shown his support for Romney with donations, tweets and public appearances. In August he tweeted, “What’s more dangerous for the country—the Iranian nuclear threat or @BarackObama as President?” The US Apprentice host has featured prominently in the news lately for his public challenges adressed to Obama.

KISS frontman Gene Simmons also showed his support for Romney during the Republican primary. Simmons is reported to have said that Romney has “the experience” and “knows how to make money” from running multiple successful companies.

 Celebrity endorsements appear to add credibility and value to a campaign.

Dr Shelly Thomspon, a former US journalist says: “It can be a useful way for candidates to draw attention to their campaigns and bring in voters who might otherwise not be involved in the campaign or even politics.”

Actor, director, producer, composer and politician, Clint Eastwood gave an eccentric speech in support of Romney at the Republican National Convention in Florida this summer.

“We own this country…,” the 82-year-old actor told his audience. “Politicians are employees of ours… and when somebody does not do the job, we gotta’ let ‘em go.”

During his address, the Gran Torino star conducted an imaginary conversation with Obama, turning, on occasion, toward an empty chair that the President was visualised to be sitting in. During their ‘conversation,’ Eastwood threatened to discipline Obama who he imagined to have told him to ‘shut up’ numerous times, saying, “we’re going to have to have a little chat about that.”

Romney’s supporters lapped up his performance. Trump and Eastwood’s support is not the only high-profile celebrity support Romeny is receiving.

Gun rights activist, Ted Nugent, who allegedly described ‘America is in a suicidal tailspin’ under Obama, recently tweeted: “after a long heart&soul conversation with Mitt Romney today, I concluded this good man will properly represent we the people & I endorsed him.”

Amber Burton, a Lecturer in PR and Advertising at Bournemouth University said: “You’re always going to get more share of voice out in your target audience if that message is being carried by a celebrity who’s known in their own right.”

Johnny Van Zant, lead singer of American rock band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, supports Romney’s tax strategy, which involves lower income families paying the same amount in taxes as the super-rich.

Van Zant told, “As far as I’m concerned, I’ve heard the president go ‘we’re asking the rich to take a little bit more in taxes’. Well, that’s not asking, that’s telling. I still believe in the trickle-down effect. ”

Not all celebrity support for Romney has been well-received. Actress Stacy Dash, of Clueless fame, faced public fury after showing her support for Romney.

Her tweet on October 7th, “Vote for Romney. The only choice for your future,” angered the Twittersphere. Much of the backlash came because she is a black woman supporting a white candidate. A more recent tweet by Dash, “Well done Govenor. God Speed,” led to futher public outrage and even death threats.

Dash voted for Obama in 2008, but has changed her vote this time around because she wants “the next four years to be different,” according to CNN. The actress said that she chose to vote for Romney “not [because of] the colour of his skin, but [because of] the content of his character.”

Pirates of the Caribbean producer, Jerry Bruckheimer, a strong financial supporter of Romney, has contributed $22,500 (£14,000) to Romney and the Republican Party, according to The Center for Responsive Politics.

A more unconventional kind of support came from rapper Nicki Minaj in her guest appearance on fellow rapper Lil Wayne’s mix tape, Dedication 4. In the song, she says “I’m a Republican voting for Mitt Romney. You lazy b*****s is f*****g up the economy.”

The list of celebrities supporting Romney is rising. Though his endorsement record is not nearly as impressive as Obama’s, it’s safe to say that Romney is closing the gap.

Listen to our interview with Nathan Farrell, a lecturer in communication at Bournemouth University, her opinion on celebrity endorsements in the US election.