Celebrities campaign in Reno
Liz Margerum/Liz Margerum
RALLY: Actor Edward Norton talks to a crowd of Democratic canvassers Saturday at the Speakeasy Hotel in downtown Reno.
by Beryl Chong
Reno Gazette-Journal 10/30/2004 10:43 pm
Charlotte Wilcox was putting away the groceries in her kitchen when someone rang the doorbell of her Coleman Drive home about 11:30 a.m. Saturday.
A group of people asked her whether she had voted, and she told them she had, but she was busy tending to chores. So they left.
Imagine her surprise when the grandmother learned one of the people at her door was actor Edward Norton, who was campaigning on behalf of Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry.
“I don’t even know which one he was!” said 82-year-old Wilcox, who didn’t recognize Norton. “He is my daughter’s favorite.”
But Marian Jamison, 21, who lives on Wesley Drive, knew instantly the man in the tan jacket and black jeans.
“I think it’s great that he’s doing this although it’s weird,” said the mechanic, who kept her cool as she chatted with Norton.
“Are you rallying people on the fence?” the actor asked.
“I don’t know a lot of people on the fence,” Jamison said smiling.
Norton joined numerous celebrities and politicians who have been visiting Northern Nevada to rouse up volunteers and encourage people to vote for Kerry on Tuesday.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, country singer Sammy Kershaw and boxing promoter Don King are joining President Bush in his re-election bid around the country.
Also appearing Saturday in Reno on behalf of Kerry were former Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark and actor Sean Penn.
Republicans are counting on Vice President Dick Cheney to help shore up support when he makes an appearance at 5:45 p.m. Monday at Sparks High School.
Fans clicked cameras and the crowd cheered for Norton.
“It’s incredibly important work that we’re doing,” Norton said. After his speech, Norton knocked on doors and spoke to a small crowd at the Mackay Science Building at the University of Nevada, Reno before flying to Las Vegas for more last minute campaigning for Kerry.
“I have very mixed feelings sometimes about the way that celebrity gets used as a blanket asset in political campaigns,” the actor said.
“But if young people can hear people they admire stressing the critical importance of being engaged, then to me it’s worth it to leverage that celebrity component,” Norton said.
Retired Gen. Clark spoke to supporters at the Silver and Blue Room at Lawlor Events Center Saturday.
“Gen. Clark, come here! I supported you in your primary!” yelled 78-year-old Jean Savlov of Reno from behind the barricade. The retiree had sent $50 to Clark when he was running for president.
Clark focused on issues relating to the war in Iraq and what he called the failure of the Bush administration to recognize the possibility of terrorist attacks in America prior to Sept. 11, 2001, despite warnings from intelligence sources.
“After 9/11 he took us to a war we didn’t have to fight,” said Clark referring to Iraq. “It was not pre-emptive, it was meditated and that’s a big difference.”
Democratic supporters said the general’s appearance made Kerry look stronger on security.
“Because of his relationship with the military, he gave a great deal of credibility to Kerry in his view and use of the military,” said Bob Jordan of Verdi. “He brought home a number of issues before 9/11 and the way Bush handled things.”
At another speech sponsored by MoveonPAC.org, Penn spoke to a crowd of 350 people at the Siena Hotel Spa Casino. He discussed his visit with soldiers when he visited Iraq last November. The actor has taken out full-page anti-Bush advertisements in the Washington Post and New York Times.
“The soldiers are bewildered,” Penn said.
The Oscar-winning actor said it was his responsibility to lend his name to a cause he firmly believes in.
“I don’t think it matters that I’m an actor. I think what matters is that every citizen who sees a door open to talk to each other,” said Penn, who took the place of columnist and author Arianna Huffington, who couldn’t attend the event because of a family emergency.
“My point is not to change anyone’s mind but to ask people to look deep inside to think of the future of their country and think of the future of their children and not go by some conditioned notion of what Democratic or Republican principles are,” Penn said.
By Kirsten Searer
Las Vegas Sun, November 01, 2004
Celebrities, political dignitaries hope to inspire local voters
Actor Edward Norton was campaigning Saturday night in what he termed a "tough" Las Vegas neighborhood when a few young men came running up to warn him he could be in danger.
Norton seemed unfazed telling the story on Sunday, talking instead about the spirited political conversations he had with those young men and many other Nevadans this weekend.
"I've been amazed at the level of fire on the streets," said Norton, the star of movies such as "American History X" and "Fight Club." "Clearly this state is up for grabs."
Celebrities and major political figures are descending on the state, ready to root out any voters dragging their feet to the polls. Their message: Nevada could decide this thing on Tuesday.
"This whole election may turn on what happens in Nevada," former President Bill Clinton told a crowd of about 2,500 people Friday at the Clark County Government Center.
This weekend, the campaigns made their final push in Nevada.
Clinton, actor Sean Penn, Norton and former presidential candidate Gen. Wesley Clark all campaigned on behalf of Democratic presidential contender John Kerry this weekend.
Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie made a stop in Green Valley Saturday to rally hundreds of volunteers working for the Bush-Cheney campaign.
"We have got a stiff breeze at our back," he said before dispatching them to visit thousands of doors.
Vice President Dick Cheney and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., will speak in Henderson today. And actor Leonardo DiCaprio is scheduled to talk to volunteers in a rally with state Democratic leaders.
Recent polls give Bush a 4- to 6-point advantage in the state, but Democrats are touting early voting numbers showing about 5 percent more Democrats than Republicans turned out to vote early in Clark County. In early voting, 271,465 people voted in Clark County. About 64 percent of the state's active voters live in Clark County.
Perhaps more significant were numbers coming out of the conservative Washoe County, where just 18 more Republicans than Democrats cast early ballots. Democrats typically pull strong numbers in Clark County but lose ground in counties such as Washoe.
Those numbers -- combined with the last-minute trip from Cheney -- prompted some Democrats to say the Bush-Cheney camp is getting nervous. Gillespie pooh-poohed that this weekend, saying the party realizes that the war won't be won simply by running television ads. A combination of surrogate visits and grass-roots work will bring Nevada home to Bush, he said.
Plus, Democrats pushed most of their supporters to the polls early, Gillespie said, meaning they could have weaker turnout on Tuesday.
"They cannibalize their Election Day turnout," he said.
The biggest question, both sides agree, is how many of the newly registered voters -- many of them Democrats -- will turn up to vote before polls close on 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Gillespie maintained that Nevada's expanded voter rolls could contain many Democrats that either don't exist or won't bother to vote.
That's where celebrities such as Norton hope to inspire infrequent voters. Norton said he thinks Americans are too sophisticated for celebrities to simply stand on stage with a candidate and nod their heads in agreement. Instead, he said he likes to get out and talk to people, asking voters what their major issues are, and sometimes telling them his opposition to Bush's tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.
As a New Yorker, he said he's also concerned that Bush hasn't focused enough on homeland security. But he said he most hopes to appeal to young voters of all stripes.
"It helps affirm for them that attention is being paid not just to the election but to them," he said.
Hundreds of volunteers from around the nation worked for Bush in Nevada this weekend, including Jerry and Betsy Vanderbilt, part of the Mighty Texas Strike Force, which was in town to knock on doors.
The retired engineering consultant and nursery schoolteacher from Austin, Texas, said they traveled to Nevada at their own expense because they believe Bush is fighting a successful war on terrorism and has revived the economy.
"The money is well spent," Jerry Vanderbilt said, adding that Bush has "a moral compass that John Kerry doesn't have."
Democratic state Senate candidate Steven Horsford said some early voting lines were three hours long on Friday afternoon. He predicted that polls aren't reflecting the young and minority voters who are turning up to vote.
"Clearly Democrats are winning Nevada," he said. "Kerry's going to win Nevada."
On Sunday evening, a handful of church leaders and Democratic candidates held a get-out-the-vote rally at Victory Missionary Baptist Church, a predominantly black church.
Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., told the roughly 200 people there that Bush was elected four years ago despite losing the popular vote, and with the unjust suppression of many blacks and other minorities.
And while the nation accepted Bush as president, "he hasn't acted so well" during his time in the White House, Reid said.
The president has worked against increasing the minimum wage, ended overtime pay for millions, turned record budget surplus into deficit, and in Iraq about 1,200 Americans have died, thousands have been injured, and 100,000 Iraqis have died, he said.
Reid also warned the crowd that there may be people at the polls Tuesday trying to scare them away from voting, adding that those people may tend to go after blacks, such as those making up almost all of the audience.
"Let your vote be based on hope not fear," he said, tapping a theme that has become a prominent part of Kerry's campaign speeches.
The Halloween night event was part political and part spiritual, with entertainment provided by three church choirs.
Carruth Hall, bishop from St. Paul Church of God and Christ, also said the possibility of turnover in the Supreme Court is a big issue in this election, and he implored the audience members to vote on Tuesday.
"Take some water with you, take a lunch and don't leave there until you vote," he said. "You have a chance now to right a wrong that's been going on for four years. ... This time it's payback time."
Sun reporter Dan Kulin contributed to this story.
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