Kucinich hopes for boost
from Nelson endorsement
Iowa Presidential Politics.com
campaign officials said they hope Willie Nelson's endorsement will
increase popular support and media attention for his presidential
bid, but rejected the notion that his support for the campaign is
just political tactics.
Nelson, the popular country singer, and Rep. Kucinich (D-Ohio) have
been friends for several years, said Lisa Casini, Kucinich's national
media coordinator, adding that Nelson actually emailed the campaign
and said he wanted to help.
During the upcoming months, Nelson and Kucinich will appear together
trying to win support for the Ohio congressman's campaign, said
John Friedrich, Kucinich's Iowa campaign manager.
Ads will be
handed out to Nelson's fans, and he will be promoted as a Kucinich
supporter both in radio commercials and on Kucinich's website, Friedrich
University of Iowa political science
professor, Peverill Squire, who is an expert on the Iowa caucus,
suggested more strategic reasons
to the celebrity endorsement. Squire said that Kucinich,
the former Cleveland mayor, needs help to gain support from specific
is a big city guy" and has problems reaching out to segments
of the population, he said, noting that involving Nelson in the
campaign is beneficial because Nelson has support among country
and rural fans.
pointed out that the celebrity endorsement is "basically an
economic move" from Kucinich's campaign.
campaign needs two things, public attention and money. Willie Nelson
can help in both ways," he said.
and Casini agreed with Squire that Kucinich's campaign will benefit
from Nelson's celebrity status because he appeals to a broad audience.
talks to the heart of this country," she said, noting that
both Nelson and Kucinich share a commitment and devotion to the
family farmer, the working family, and the average American.
a "positive association" to the campaign, Friedrich said.
will not support Kucinich just because of the celebrity endorsement,
but also because of Kucinich's "strong commitment against the
war in Iraq and his labor union support," he said.
Kucinich's communications director, stressed Squire's point that
Kucinich's campaign needs money.
for President is rapidly gaining in…volunteers, in staff,
in house parties and in endorsements -- but what we need most right
now is money," he said.
Besides helping to raise money through
concerts, Squire said that Nelson will
bring some newsworthiness
the campaign, which will
generate more media attention.
noting that Nelson's broad constituency will generate both money
and popular support for the campaign. He criticized the mainstream
media for being too narrow in the Democratic presidential nomination
process, and not covering Kucinich more extensively.
is not covered as widely as he should be by the mainstream media,"
he said, adding that the media try to select the Democratic presidential
candidate, when instead the voters should do that.
is trying to play kingmaker. In a democracy, that is ridiculous,"
the Iowa campaign manager said.
was satisfied with Iowa’s local media coverage of the Iowa
caucus and said he hoped Nelson and Kucinich's next joint appearance
in Iowa, on Nov. 4, will generate some attention in the newspapers.
Location is still to be determined, he said, adding that the campaign
is looking into more events including the two.
Kucinich had a joint appearance in Dubuque on Aug. 23, but the first
fundraising concert in Des Moines, on Labor Day, was postponed.
Kucinich also spoke during Nelson's Farm Aid concert in Columbus,
Ohio on Sept. 7, Casini said.
concert in Iowa in November, another concert with Nelson involving
Kucinich is scheduled in Kucinich's hometown, Cleveland. The date
is still to be set, Casini said.
Johan Bergenas at email@example.com