Voters’ acceptance of celebrities giving their blessings to political candidates all depends on who the candidate is.
So Kelly Clarkson learned this morning when she tweeted support for Ron Paul, who has, more than any other GOP contender, drawn a heavy base of support from young voters, the ones more likely to be fans of the “American Idol” star. But what she apparently got was an avalanche of angry responses from Paul detractors, particularly those dismayed by newsletters written under his name in the 1980s and 90s that included racist and highly conspiratorial remarks.
Clarkson originally tweeted, “I love Ron Paul. I liked him a lot during the last republican nomination and no one gave him a chance. If he wins the nomination for the Republican party in 2012 he’s got my vote. Too bad he probably won’t.”
But after criticism, and admonishing some of those who sent her vitriolic remarks, she said that she had never heard “that he’s a racist” or a “homophobe.” She then tweeted,” I am really sorry if I have offended anyone. Obviously that was not my intent. I do not support racism. I support gay rights, straight rights, women’s rights, men’s rights, white/black/purple/orange rights. I like Ron Paul because he believes in less government and letting the people (all of us) make the decisions and mold our country. That is all. Out of all of the Republican nominees, he’s my favorite.”
This is a typical example of the perils of celebrities plunging into politics, but it is magnified for Clarkson. As show biz leans left, it is still a novelty for any celebrity to endorse Paul. Vince Vaughn introduced him at a political conference in September, and Drew Carey has expressed his support.
In September, the Daily Caller reported that Barry Manilow, of all people, said he agreed with Paul “just about everything he says.” But several weeks later, Manilow made it clear that he was not endorsing Paul and that he “loves” President Obama.
Ron Paul may have never heard of Kelly Clarkson. And you may come away from all of this thinking, who cares? Well, it seems some fans do. Celebrity endorsements say more about them than anything.
Updated: Clarkson also tweeted this statement, which underscores the extent of the backlash. “Man my eyes have been opened to so much hate tonight. If y’all ever disagree with something I say please don’t feel the need to attack me. I will listen to what you say and any articles or viewpoints you have when you say it with respect. Being hateful is not a healthy way to get people to see or hear you. I was raised to respect people and their decisions and beliefs and I hope you will grant me the same decency. If you don’t agree with me simply unfollow me. It’s really that easy. I hope you don’t because I would love the chance to hear what you have to say but if you’re so blinded by hate you can’t seek peace and progress then that is your unfortunate prerogative.”
Also defending her choice of Ron Paul: Michelle Branch.