WASHINGTON — Entertainment figures canvassed precincts, tweeted out last-minute endorsements, rallied millennials and, most of all, urged people to vote in a midterm election characterized by former President Barack Obama as perhaps “the most important of our lifetimes.”
In a sharp contrast to 2016, few Democratic Hollywood figures were publicly predicting outcomes, even as pollsters see a very good possibility that the party will take control of the House.
On Monday evening, Pharrell Williams, Debra Messing, Charlize Theron, Samuel L. Jackson, Chelsea Handler, Amy Schumer, and Jane Fonda were among a long list of celebrities scheduled to take part in “The Telethon for America,” a get-out-the-vote event hosted by Olivia Munn and organized by Ben Gleib. The telethon will be streamed live, and although it is non-partisan, many of the participants have publicly expressed their opposition to Trump.
In Florida, Norman Lear was out on the trail for Andrew Gillum, running for governor of that state, and Common campaigned with Obama in Illinois. Jimmy Kimmel campaigned with Jacky Rosen, seeking to unseat Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nevada), and focused on Heller’s vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
For the past month Trump has been on a rallying blitz, and will end his midterm campaigning at an event in Missouri, where he will be joined by Lee Greenwood and Rush Limbaugh, while Sean Hannity will interview him for Fox News.
Trump on Monday predicted that Republicans would score an upset akin to 2016, when he defied predictions to win the presidency.
At one of his rallies, he took some credit for driving up interest in the election.
“The midterms used to be boring” but now are “the hottest thing,” he said, while adding that the news media was “making a fortune” on a new level of interest in politics.
Republicans have generally dismissed this year’s activism among Hollywood figures as out-of-touch or “unhinged.”
On Monday, for instance, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) responded to a stinging Twitter post from Jim Carrey with one of his barbs.
Carrey tweeted out an illustration in which Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) rides a wave that is about to consume Cruz. “Go Beto! Go Democrats! Vote like there’s no tomorrow. Let’s make this Tuesday like the end of every great vampire movie. Pull back the curtains and let the sunshine turn all those bloodsuckers to dust,” Carrey wrote.
“Hollywood liberals all in for Beto. But (self-described socialist) Jim Carrey made a mistake here: Vampires are dead, and everyone knows the dead vote Democrat….” Cruz responded.
Trump is not on the ballot, but many industry figures are looking to Tuesday’s vote as one to put him in check.
Cher appeared as a call-in guest on “Hardball,” and decried Trump’s family separation policy.
“When a man can take children away from their parents, and put them in cages, and he suffers no consequences, then I don’t understand how we’re America anymore,” she told host Chris Matthews.
Hollywood figures have created or starred in a flood of videos and social media messages urging people to get to the polls, some of them hastily put together and others aimed at a specific audience. Barbra Streisand taped a robocall for GLAAD, urging LGBTQ voters to get to vote.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus appeared in a video for Attn: decrying Trump for “inflaming the hatred of some at the violent expense of others.” The video featured interviews with Holocaust survivors.
“We call on the President to unequivocally denounce fascism, neo-Nazism, and white nationalism,” Louis-Dreyfus said. She added, “On Nov. 6, vote for unity. Vote for decency. Vote.”
Rihanna and Axl Rose protested Trump in a different way: They raised objections to the Trump campaign’s use of their music at rallies, holding out the prospect of legal action.
“Personally I kinda liked the irony of Trump supporters listening to a bunch of anti Trump music at his rallies but I don’t imagine a lot of ‘em really get that or care,” Axl Rose wrote on Twitter. “Unfortunately the Trump campaign is using loopholes in the various venues’ blanket performance licenses which were not intended for such craven political purposes, without the songwriters’ consent.”
Willie Nelson had no objection to his signature song, “On the Road Again,” being used in an O’Rourke spot. Nelson performed at a concert for O’Rourke last month, and lent his name to a campaign fundraising appeal.