WASHINGTON -- Baseball great Hank Aaron is a Barack Obama guy. Golf legend Jack Nicklaus is in Mitt Romney's camp.
From athletes and astronauts to singers and Hollywood stars, a growing line of celebrities is turning up at fancy dinners and rallies to build support and get out the vote for Obama or Romney, the president's Republican challenger.
Obama has entertainers like Bruce Springsteen, Katy Perry, George Clooney, Beyonce and Jay-Z.
Romney's supporters include Clint Eastwood, musicians Kid Rock and Lee Greenwood and comedian Dennis Miller. Often the Democratic ticket attracts younger and glitzier stars.
Both campaigns have spent huge amounts of time and effort making sure their rallies feature opening acts that reinforce a campaign message, whether it's the economy, health care, veterans or some other issue.
Nicklaus, who now designs golf courses, teed up Romney at a campaign event near Columbus, Ohio.
The golfer said he's had to lay off workers because of the struggling economy. "We can't keep doing what we've been doing. We have to look at the problems at hand and change them," he said.
On the Democratic side, Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder ripped into Romney at an Obama fundraiser in Florida. Vedder said he was upset by Romney's caught-on-tape comments that 47 percent of Americans consider themselves victims and entitled to government help. If Romney wins the White House, "none of those 47 percent of people would have a voice," Vedder said.
Aaron, who wore No. 44 for the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves, urged a crowd in Wisconsin to re-elect Obama, president No. 44. Appearing with Obama in Milwaukee, Aaron said one of the most touching moments of his life was when Obama was elected as the country's first black president.
"As one who wore the number 44 on his back for decades, I ask you to join me in helping the 44th president of the United States hit a grand slam," said Aaron, the last Negro League player to compete on a major league roster.
After retired space-shuttle astronaut Sid Gutierrez trumpeted Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan in Florida last month, Obama countered with his own famous former astronaut. Former Ohio Sen. John Glenn, the first American to orbit the earth, appeared with a rally with the president.
Singer Will.i.am, who wrote the song "Yes We Can" for Obama's 2008 run, also was on stage that day. Obama joked that the singer "sometimes looks like he's been to outer space," while Glenn "has actually been to outer space."
Celebrity warm-up acts may draw news coverage, but they're unlikely to have a lasting effect on the election, said Darrell West, director of governance studies at the Brookings Institution think tank.
Even so, appearances by high-profile supporters can validate candidates "by taking them out of the political realm into popular culture," West said.
"Voters are cynical about candidates and think they will say anything to win," West said. "Having a nonpolitical opening act gives politicians credibility at a time of massive cynicism."
Associated Press writers Steve Peoples in Virginia, Ken Thomas in Florida, Kasie Hunt in Ohio and Julie Pace in Colorado contributed to this report.
The No Doubt singer and L.A.M.B. designer <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/12/obama-hollywood-democrats-super-pacs_n_1340385.html" target="_hplink">hosted the First Lady at her Los Angeles home in August</a>. That event was attended by Nicole Ritchie, Joel Madden, Jeffrey Tambor, Alyson Hannigan and No Doubt member Tony Kanal. Tickets were $2,500 for a family of four, and about 400 people were said to attend.
The charming actor is undoubtedly the campaign's brightest star. Aside from hosting a dinner which <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/11/george-clooney-obama_n_1508850.html" target="_hplink">ended up bringing $15 million into the campaign's coffers</a> (through the sale of $40,000 tickets and a contest through which fans could enter to attend by donating $3), he has <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/12/obama-hollywood-democrats-super-pacs_n_1340385.html" target="_hplink">dialed up over $500,000 in Geneva</a> as well. The latter fundraiser featured contributors shelling out $15,000 each for dinner and another $5,000 for a photo with Clooney. The President has said the actor is a true and brilliant friend. He forgot to mention "highly lucrative."
Ben Affleck & Matt Damon
... and John Krasinski, Jennifer Garner, Reese Witherspoon, Zach Braff and Tobey Maguire. Though that list of names reads more like a red carpet tip sheet than a fundraiser guest list, all of the above celebrities <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/22/ben-affleck-elizabeth-warren-fundraiser_n_1537308.html" target="_hplink">lined up and brought out their check books for Elizabeth Warren</a>. The consumer advocate, law professor and creator of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau got a big boost from the stars, who supported her bid to reclaim Ted Kennedy's Senate seat for the Democrats, from Scott Brown and the Republicans. A May event at "Lost" creator J.J. Abram's house was said to net over $250,000 for Warren's campaign. Harvey Weinstein, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steven Spielberg were said to have sent checks.
Clint Eastwood It's a bit lonelier on the other side, but Clint Eastwood <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/03/clint-eastwood-romney-endorses_n_1740021.html" target="_hplink">made Romney proud</a> by endorsing the former governor's fiscal policy -- and handsome mug. At a fundraiser in early August, Eastwood announced he would vote for Romney, the type of candidate the actor said America needed "now more than ever." (Romney's reaction: "What a guy.") That puts Eastwood in the company of Kid Rock, Jon Voight and Kelsey Grammer.
The "Glee" creator was <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/11/ryan-murphy-barack-obama-fundraiser_n_1510006.html" target="_hplink">one of many Hollywood figures who brought out their checkbooks</a> in the wake of Obama's support of same-sex marriage. Julia Roberts, Jane Lynch and Reese Witherspoon were among those who took part in a fundraiser hosted at Murphy's home. About 70 people were said to attend, with tickets going for $40,000 per couple. If we assume most came as couples, a cool $1.4 million or more could have been raised.
The "Dark Knight Rises" actress has been spotted at Occupy Wall St. protests, so it's not shocking that she would lean a little to the left. She attended a fundraiser at Harvey Weinstein's house, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/06/obama-anne-hathaway-aaron-sorkin_n_1749753.html" target="_hplink">where the president described her as "the best part" of the Batman movie</a>. ("Newsroom" and "West Wing" scribe Aaron Sorkin also got a plug: "He writes the way every Democrat in Washington wished they spoke.") The dinner, which cost $35,000 per person, was attended by Anna Wintour and Jerry Springer as well.
The singer is currently working on a bit of a comeback, but a June fundraiser featuring a performance by Carey was <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/14/obama-sarah-jessica-parker-mariah-carey-fundraisers_n_1596020.html " target="_hplink">solid enough to bank $2.5 million for the president</a>. Mr. and Mrs. Obama were in attendance, and the event took place the same day as Jessica Parker's. Efficiency is always the aim, it seems.
Warner Bros.' CEO (pictured here with Sen. Patrick Leahy and Clint Eastwood) presided over an event at his home, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/13/gwen-stefani-michelle-obama-fundraiser-not-spiderman_n_1772046.html" target="_hplink">welcoming the FLOTUS into an eager crowd</a> that included WB TV President Peter Roth, Netflix executive Ted Srandos, HBO Vice-President James Costos, DreamWorks Animations COO Anne Globe. Chelsea Handler also attended. Tickets were $2,500 and a photo with Michelle Obama cost an additional $2,500.
Back in May, Weinstein's overall contribution to Super PACs pointing Obama's way <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/12/obama-hollywood-democrats-super-pacs_n_1340385.html" target="_hplink">was already valued at nearly $700,000</a>. Since then, he's hosted a fundraiser at his home and referenced the president favorably in countless interviews. In Hollywood, it's good to have Hollywood on your side. Perhaps the same goes for Washington?
Sarah Jessica Parker
The "Sex and the City" star <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/19/sarah-jessica-parker-obama-fundraiser_n_1609383.html" target="_hplink">hosted the president and first lady </a>at the home she shares with husband Matthew Broderick. There were about 50 who attended the highly exclusive event, and guests like Anna Wintour, Meryl Streep, Michael Kors and Aretha Franklin eagerly doled out the $40,000 ticket fee for the chance to mingle with the Commander in Chief. The dinner was said to have raked in $2 million for the campaign.
The "Red Hook Summer" director hosted the POTUS, who received not only $1.6 million (according to Lee), but <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/20/spike-lee-hosts-president-obama-fundraiser_n_1218479.html" target="_hplink">also a pair of custom Nikes</a>. Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon were among those who attended. Lee continues to speak favorably of Obama in interviews.
Gaga may be busy touring and recording (naked), but the "Born This Way" pop star <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/26/lady-gaga-attends-obama-fundraiser_n_980505.html" target="_hplink">found time for a fundraiser in Silicon Valley</a>. As always, the singer dressed eccentrically, wearing a floor-length lace dress which she paired with a giant hair-do and a veil hair piece. Gaga had said she wanted to meet with Obama to discuss bullying.
The Cast & Creator of 'The Wire'
Obama has shouted out David Simon's "The Wire" as his favorite show, so it's no wonder the cast of the program returned the favor in August. Multiple former cast members <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/17/the-wire-obama-fundraiser_n_1799304.html?utm_hp_ref=political-hollywood " target="_hplink">spoke at an event in Martha's Vineyard</a>, just a day after Simon ripped into Mitt Romney on his blog. Simon rejected Romney's attempt to calm a growing controversy surrounding his tax returns by assuring reporters that he had never paid below 13 percent, a number Simon found "absurd."
The Frasier star <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/15/kelsey-grammer-emmys-snub-republican_n_1784677.html" target="_hplink">floated the idea that he was snubbed for an Emmy for "Boss" on account of his openly conservative views</a>. Grammer <a href="http://fundrace.huffingtonpost.com/neighbors.php?type=name&lname=grammer&fname=kelsey&search=Search+by+Name " target="_hplink">donated</a> to John McCain, Rudy Giuliani and George W. Bush when they were each running for office and has been all the more vocal about his views this time around.
What can be said? Angelina Jolie's father has made a cottage industry out of supporting Republicans, though he's a bit prone to gaffes. In a speech at the Republican National Convention, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/28/jon-voight-obama-administration-media-control_n_1837409.html" target="_hplink">Voight compared Obama's administration to Cesar Chavez</a>, mistakenly invoking the co-founder of the National Farmworkers Association. It's safe to assume Voight meant to compare Obama to Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. Voight has donated to conservative politicians in the past.
The comedian and talk show host <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/24/bill-maher-super-pac-obama-_n_1299250.html" target="_hplink">donated $1 million to Priorities USA,</a> a Super PAC which supports Obama and has also fielded contributions from Steven Spielberg. In an appearance on HuffPost Live, Maher explained that he hoped his decision would inspire others in Hollywood to do the same, and said he believed Morgan Freeman's recent donation proves that his plan had worked. He also frequently fact checks and disparages Romney and the Conservatives on his HBO show.