The stars come out to play — politics

By SANDRA SOBIERAJ

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — Cher, Bo, Ben, Whoopi. The stars are coming out this week for their presidential favorites.

Cher, the last to leave Al Gore’s Westwood-area rally Tuesday night, was up Wednesday at 4 a.m. on the West Coast to give drive-time interviews to East Coast radio stations plugging Gore’s Democratic candidacy.

Martin Sheen, who plays the president on TV’s "West Wing" and dressed the part for Gore’s rally, worked the ropeline here alongside the vice president.

Sheen and a host of other Gore cheerleaders, led by director Rob Reiner, were packing their bags to storm Midwest battlegrounds later this week: Ben Affleck, Whoopi Goldberg, Christine Lahti, Susan Dey, Melissa Etheridge, Jewel and Alfre Woodard.

Because Hollywood generally tilts to the left, the stable of high-wattage celebs stumping for Republican George W. Bush isn’t as full.

Action-movie star Chuck Norris was with Bush at a rally in Fresno, Calif., on Monday, and country music’s Loretta Lynn pops up here and there. Actress Bo Derek, best known for the 1979 Blake Edwards’ comedy, "10," is expected to help out, too.

Derek and the Oak Ridge Boys, also Bush supporters, were regulars on Bob Dole’s 1996 Republican campaign trail.

During Gore’s bus tours in Michigan and Wisconsin this week, rock singer Jon Bon Jovi raced ahead of the caravan to keep waiting crowds happy until the candidate arrived.

"I wrote ‘Living on a Prayer’ during the Reagan era trickle-down economics," he told a Michigan audience. "I don’t want to go back."

In California after Gore’s rally at a Westwood intersection, Affleck showed no concern about slapping an adhesive Gore-Lieberman sticker on what looked like a brand-new leather sportcoat.

"You gotta sacrifice for the cause," Affleck said.

"It’s a $3,000 Armani but I’d throw it to the ground and step on it for Al Gore."

Asked one of Gore’s young aides: "Can I have it, then?"

Celebrities out here aren’t as careful as Washington politicos about the way they talk. Much of what Cher and Goldberg said about Bush on Tuesday night couldn’t be printed in a family newspaper. Reiner taunted Bush as empty-headed and led the crowd in chanting, "No son of a Bush!"

The famous here are also not shy about some touchy subjects.

Chatting up the vice president’s staffers, Affleck complained that they had muzzled the Democrats’ biggest star, President Clinton, and asked them to reconsider. The aides asked Affleck to telephone later for discussion.

But Gore had earlier made clear, once more, that the question was not open. "We are not going to campaign together because I’m running on my own," he told Jay Leno.

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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