Candidates Brandish Seals of Approval

A timely endorsement can give a candidate’s campaign a crucial boost or even turn the tide of a primary race. Just ask Sen. John Edwards.

After garnering an endorsement from The Des Moines Register on Jan. 11 (“John Edwards—His Time is Now”), the Edwards camp altered its “Believe” spot to include the line, “Now endorsed by The Des Moines Register.” The tweaked ad rolled out in Iowa last week.

“Given the number of undecided voters in Iowa, that was huge for us,” said Roger Salazar, an Edwards campaign rep. “Endorsements are important, and you love to have them.”

The Democrats in this year’s race have been quick to uphold the tradition of inserting the nods of approval into their advertising. In South Carolina last week, Sen. Joseph Lieberman broke four radio spots featuring approvals from state representatives John Scott, Fletcher Smith and Rev. Mack Hines.

In one of two ads, Hines, a Baptist minister, applauds Lieberman’s faith and integrity. “It’s the first time we’ve mentioned Joe’s faith in our ads,” said Joe Eyer, national political director. “It’s something that matters to Joe and something that matters to voters.”

“These endorsements are important because of the [faith] networks they bring with them,” added Eyer. “They have extensive networks we will tie in with our ads, on radio and television.”

Dennis Kucinich’s campaign considers its TV ads to have carried an implicit celebrity endorsement through the voiceovers by actor Danny Glover, one of several actors—including Ed Asner, Elliott Gould, Peter Coyote and Eric Roberts—who have officially endorsed the candidate.

Then there are endorsements by musicians, who have so far appeared at fundraising events but could appear in future ads. Hootie and the Blowfish, for example, has endorsed Edwards.

Salazar said Edwards would consider featuring any endorsement in ads. The campaign may use Hootie and the Blowfish in South Carolina, where the group is particularly popular.

It was unclear last week if Carol Mosely Braun, the first Democrat to drop out, will appear in an ad for Howard Dean, whom she is endorsing.