Tuesday, January 20, 2004

DES MOINES, Iowa (Agence France-Presse) — James Taylor and Kathleen Turner proved better political barometers than Madonna, Willie Nelson or Danny Glover, but, all in all, celebrity endorsements did not make much of a ripple in Iowa’s caucuses Monday.

Mr. Taylor, Miss Turner and singer Stephen Stills all backed Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, but opinion in Hollywood has been as divided as the public’s on the contest to decide who will challenge President Bush in November.

Unlike former President Clinton, who had wide support in Hollywood, none of the current candidates has received the film industry’s full backing, said Susanne Savage, a Howard Dean campaign worker in Los Angeles.

Superstars Madonna and Jennifer Lopez have backed Wesley Clark, the former NATO supreme commander.

Mr. Clark appeared recently at a Los Angeles fund-raiser with Miss Lopez and her then-beau, actor Ben Affleck, and the rock band the Eagles.

Mr. Clark took a gamble and decided not to run in Iowa, choosing to debut next week in the New Hampshire primary instead.

On her Web site, Madonna said she was thinking about her children’s future when she decided to back Mr. Clark. She has a 7-year-old daughter named Lourdes and a 3-year-old son named Rocco.

She said she supports Mr. Clark “not only as a celebrity, but as an American citizen and as a mother.”

“I want my children to grow up with the same opportunities that I had — to know and understand what’s going on in the world and to travel that world safely and with pride,” the Material Girl wrote.

She added that she sees in Mr. Clark “the qualifications, character and vision that we so desperately need.”

Martin Sheen, who plays the U.S. president on television’s popular White House drama “The West Wing,” endorsed Mr. Dean, former governor of Vermont, who was considered the front-runner until polls showed him slipping two weeks ago. He staged a disappointing third-place finish in Iowa.

Mr. Sheen and “When Harry Met Sally” director Rob Reiner arrived here last week to campaign for Mr. Dean.

Mr. Sheen, who had already established himself as one of Hollywood’s most ardent political activists, led Tinseltown’s Iraq war opposition. Later, he created a committee that opposed fellow actor and former bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger’s candidacy for California’s governorship.

Even Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio, a long-shot running an unabashedly liberal campaign, got the support of a Hollywood star — actor Danny Glover, Mel Gibson’s co-star in the shoot-‘em-up film series “Lethal Weapon.”

Mr. Glover appeared in a television ad for Mr. Kucinich and came to Iowa to stump for the underdog candidate.

Country singer Willie Nelson also lent his support to Mr. Kucinich, even dedicating a tune to him.

Many politically vocal Hollywood stars have not made their preference known.

Director Steven Spielberg, actor Warren Beatty and producer David Geffen, all of whom are known for their support of the Democratic Party, have yet to say which candidate will get their vote.

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