Actor and Director Clint Eastwood gave celebrities-turned-political-activists everywhere a bad name last week when he chin-wagged to a chair on the Republican National Convention stage in primetime just minutes before the party's nominee, Mitt Romney, addressed the nation. Eva Longoria and Scarlett Johansson will have a shot setting things straight Thursday when they speak at the Democratic National Convention.
But there are a few other celebrities that could build a case for President Obama, says Democratic pollster Celinda Lake.
As Democrats fight hard to drive home the point that Republicans would overturn Roe v. Wade and dramatically limit the rights of women to access contraception, working-class women remain a much-sought after and conflicted constituency.
"They are vacillating between feeling hard-hit about the economy, but also wondering 'You are taking about taking away my birth control?' " Lake says. "It's not just a question of you having the wrong position, it is a question of [Republicans] having the wrong priorities."
Lake says actress Ashley Judd, who is representing Tennessee as a delegate this week, could help build Obama's appeal to so-called "Wal-Mart Moms."
"Ashley Judd is helping us already, and is a powerful spokesperson for women's right and environmental rights," says Lake. "She helps to mobilize women."
Another celeb who could shore up some support among blue-collar workers is Tommy Lee Jones. Jones gave a speech at the 2000 Democratic National Convention in defense of his college roommate, former Vice President Al Gore, and is still popular among working-class voters.
Lake says Jones could sell Americans on the president's toughness, a factor with blue collar workers who worry the president isn't aggressive enough to lead.
"Bipartisanship is nice, but they want toughness," Lake says. "They have certainly made the case at this convention with him standing up for the auto bailout and against insurance companies on healthcare."
The actors working-class background is relatable, she says, and could help Obama's campaign in swing states like Ohio and Wisconsin. Another celebrity might help pick up a few votes with seniors, as a widely-circulated petition on change.org calls for actress Betty White to speak at the convention. Lake says getting the straight-talking senior on stage could mildly help.
But Lake says while White has an appeal, seniors aren't as receptive to celebrities as other constituencies.
"For seniors, the celebrities can do less for us than the validators," Lake says. "People like the president of AARP can be more effective."