Usher Endorsed Obama but Has Bipartisan Approach to Voting

The hip hop king has a program to engage kids in politics.

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He's a big fan of and spokesman for Sen. Barack Obama, but Sen. John McCain likes his R&B and hip-hop music so much that singing sensation Usher might be in the rarest of company come Inauguration Day. No matter who wins the presi-dency, he could be the star entertainment at the Inaugural Ball. "Yeah, yeah," he chuckles at the thought, unsuspectingly quoting the title of one of his hit songs. "I respect John McCain so much as a serviceman and to be a fan is definitely something I'm proud of and very thankful for," Usher Raymond IV tells Whispers. And even though Usher has appeared at rallies with Obama and believes the Democrat is "right on spot" with all of his positions, he's trying to keep his Big D affiliation away from his little d passion: getting kids 17 and younger hip to the election and politics. Usher's focus is his program "I Can't But You Can," which aims to engage kids by getting them to register new voters at community events and even by going door to door with registration info. "I want it to cross all barriers, not just be a Democratic promotion," Usher tells us. And that means he has to straddle the fence when promoting his plan. "More than anything, I wanted to make sure that it wasn't a put-off," the Grammy winner says of his Obama endorsement. "There may be some people out there who feel differently," he says. Obama's cool with Usher's approach. "The one thing he told me is that, 'I want you to educate youth about voting, and how important it is, and how to utilize their voice,' " Usher says. So far, the program has signed up 17,000 new voters.

Illustration by Joe Ciardiello for USN&WR