Bono Crashes '08 Campaign

When U2 singer and activist Bono speaks, politicians listen.

Last week, the singer was in Germany, reminding the G-8 leaders about their failed promises to Africa.

This week, Bono is exerting his political influence on new targets -- the '08 presidential candidates.

ONE in '08

The ONE grass-roots campaign that Bono co-founded to raise awareness about African poverty and disease announced Monday it has launched an initiative called ONE Vote '08.

The $30 million campaign urges Americans to pressure all of the 2008 presidential candidates to develop a policy to fight global poverty and disease.

"The number of people whose lives will be affected by the choice you make next November is much higher than the population of America," said Bono in a video released at the ONE Vote '08 launch. "Do we have the political will to end this?"

At the campaign's launch in an Episcopal church, supporters of the campaign joked about Bono's power.

"I don't think it's written in the Bible, but if enough people suffer in the world, rock stars will start crying out," joked evangelical Pastor Brian McLaren at the campaign launch Monday in Washington, D.C.

"We're going to make sure that every candidate gets asked again and again and again what they're going to do about poverty," said McLaren.

Much of the money for the political campaign comes from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Bipartisan Face to Campaign

Former Senate Majority Leaders Bill Frist, a Republican from Tennessee, and Tom Daschle, a Democrat from South Dakota, have teamed to co-chair the ONE Vote '08 campaign -- hoping a bipartisan effort will pack more punch in putting Africa on the agenda.

"In a world today that is colored by poverty, poverty which leads to lack of hope, poverty that leads to desperation, poverty that leads to instability that becomes a breeding ground for terrorism," Frist declared.

"For the next 18-months, you're going to see us like this," Frist said of himself and Daschle, holding his fingers together.

Frist stood at a podium with the African Children's Choir sitting behind him. The children in the choir are between the ages of 7 and 11. Many have lost one or both of their parents to war, famine or disease.

Frist told a story about walking outside of a hospital in Africa, where he was volunteering, and meeting a 2-year-old African child, whose mother named him "America," because she believed U.S. aid had saved her son's life.

"People do not go to war with people who have saved their children's lives," said Frist.

Frist and Daschle will travel the country talking with voters, urging them to focus the White House wannabes on a plan to fight extreme poverty and global disease.

"One billion people live on less than $1 a day," said Daschle.

Speaking about Bono's power to influence the political agenda, Daschle said, "Much of this wouldn't have been possible without him."

For Bono, Pressuring Politicians Nothing New

For years, Bono has placed public pressure on the leaders of the world's most industrialized nations and on President George W. Bush, in particular.

Last week Bush met with Bono, music producer Bob Geldorf and Senegalese singer Youssou N'Dour before the start of the G-8 summit of major industrialized nations, which was held in Germany.

With his low public approval ratings, Bush and other leaders rely on the public relations boost a meeting with Bono can provide.

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