Celebrity endorsement season: Kevin Costner to endorse Buttigieg


It won’t happen in Dyersville, Iowa, the location of the real Field of Dreams, but during a town hall in Indianola, south of Des Moines. Actor Kevin Costner, star of Field of Dreams is set to endorse Pete Buttigieg for president Sunday. His is the latest celebrity endorsement of a 2020 Democrat primary candidate. While some celebrities are busy celebrating Impeachmas – solemnly, of course – others are hitting the campaign trail.

I’ll note here that Bernie Sanders played a game at the cornfield-surrounded baseball diamond from the movie in August. It’s not exactly baseball weather in Iowa now.

Mayor Pete is ranked first in Iowa, according to Real Clear Politics. Clearly that has the other top contenders worried. A win in Iowa sets the tone for the rest of the primary season, regardless of the political party. In the case of the Democrats, the winner in the Democratic caucuses has gone on to win the nomination in seven of nine contested races since 1972. Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama are the two exceptions – the two worst presidents in my lifetime, by the way. Most importantly for primary voters, the Iowa caucuses winnow the field of candidates. Only one time has someone finished lower than third and gone on to win a party’s nomination – John McCain in 2008. That is where the phrase “three tickets out of Iowa” originates.

The Buttigieg campaign is feeling good about Pete’s chances of winning the Iowa caucuses in February. This isn’t Costner’s first trip to Iowa to endorse a candidate.

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“The momentum for Pete on the ground in Iowa is continuing to grow,” Ben Halle, Buttigieg’s Iowa communications director, told CNN in a statement. “On Pete’s last trip to Iowa in December, over 5,000 people attended his town halls. We’re excited to have Kevin Costner in Indianola this weekend to help us expand on the broad-based coalition we’re building in Iowa to win the caucuses on February 3rd.”

The two-time Academy Award winner will introduce Buttigieg in Iowa when the presidential candidate kicks off his 20th trip to the early state this year. Earlier this year, Costner endorsed Iowa congressional candidate J.D. Scholten, a former semi-pro baseball player mounting a second bid to unseat GOP Rep. Steve King.

It’s easy to forget that Costner is a standard Hollywood liberal these days. He often plays conservative characters (like his current role in the series Yellowstone) and at one time appeared to lean conservative in his real life. He invested heavily in technology that aids oil spill clean-up by separating crude oil from water. His interest spurred on his actions after the Exxon Valdez tanker ran aground in 1989. After the Deepwater Horizon disaster, he became a public face for the technology. He even managed to sell BP 32 of his company’s machines that separate crude from the oil-water mixture skimmed off the sea. Now, of course, any involvement with oil and gas companies is a disqualifier for a Democrat candidate. The party’s base has gone over the edge and is no longer capable of reasonable thinking about any aspect of the oil and gas industry.

In other celebrity endorsement news, Thursday actor Donald Glover (Atlanta) jumped on the Yang train. Glover will be providing help to the campaign as a “creative consultant”. He even hawked Yang campaign merchandise in a pop-up store.

Among the other figures who have announced their support for a candidate include Rob Reiner for Joe Biden and John Legend for Elizabeth Warren. Ariana Grande expressed her support for Bernie Sanders, and Cardi B appeared in a conversation with the candidate that appeared on YouTube, Susan Sarandon campaigned in Iowa with Sanders, just as she did in the 2016 cycle. Rosario Dawson, who has been dating Cory Booker, also is endorsing him — if that wasn’t obvious already.

Do celebrity endorsements really matter? Not really, especially in the general election. Hillary Clinton, you’ll recall, really overworked the celebrity endorsement angle in the final weeks of her campaign. She appeared at concert fundraisers, for example, put on by the likes of Springsteen and Bon Jovi. Lots of Hollywood celebrities were making a point of publicly singing the praises of Hillary, though many of them had willingly worked with Trump as a private citizen.

In the primary season, though, the addition of a celebrity to a town hall or public speech by a candidate can draw more attention to a campaign. In the Democrat field, with so many candidates still out in the field, additional attention from an entertainer can be helpful. We all remember Oprah coming forward and going out to campaign for Barack Obama in 2007. Endorsements may not sway voters but it certainly makes them pay attention.

Costner isn’t the only celebrity coming to Buttigieg’s side. Not all celebrities are going by the traditional Democrat playbook this cycle. For instance, actress Jane Lynch came forward Friday in defense of Pete Buttigieg and against class warfare. Lynch was not pleased with Elizabeth Warren’s attack on Buttigieg over the wine cave fundraiser.

On Friday, Jane Lynch started trending on Twitter after she posted a comment defending Pete Buttigieg from one of Elizabeth Warren’s attack lines at Thursday’s Democratic debate. Warren had criticized Buttigieg for having dinner with high-dollar donors in a “wine cave” in Napa Valley.

Lynch wrote, “Hello everyone. Billionaires in wine caves have as much right to say who gets to be president as waitresses in diners and plumbers in my bathroom. Class warfare is ugly, @ewarren. Thanks for listening everyone.”

Good point. Plus, the utter hypocrisy shown by Elizabeth Warren needs to be called out. It was about time that a Democrat candidate called out Warren for transferring millions from her Senate campaign coffers to her presidential campaign, only to criticize others for campaign donations. Do any of us think that when she was a member of Harvard’s law school facility that she didn’t attend events with $900 bottles of wine in the room? Tossing that grenade at Buttigieg was just a cheap shot to appeal to class warfare social justice warriors.

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