May 15, 2012 -- intro: If there's any lingering doubt about whether rapper Jay-Z is an Obama supporter, as he was in 2008, the hip-hop megastar dispelled it today.
In an interview with CNN, Jay-Z said President Obama is a better choice for the country than Mitt Romney "by leaps and bounds."
The rapper praised Obama's recent support for same-sex marriage, saying the issue "is still holding the country back."
"You can chose to love whoever you love; that's your business," Jay-Z, 42, said. "It's no different than discrimination against blacks. It's discrimination plain and simple."
Jay-Z and wife Beyonce have been ardent Obama supporters since his 2008 campaign. And the president is equally supportive of the hip-hop duo. When The Atlantic asked whether he preferred Jay-Z or Kanye West, Obama said, without hesitation, "Jay-Z," noting that Kanye is a "jackass," referring to Kanye's interrupting Taylor Swift's Grammy-acceptance speech.
Beyonce last month showed her love for the first family, penning a letter to Michelle Obama in which she said the first lady was "the ULTIMATE example of a truly strong African American woman."
Here's a look at the other big names in show business who have put the muscle of their celebrity status behind the men vying for the White House this year.
quicklist:1title: Ricky Martincategory: Barack Obamatext:International pop star Ricky Martin, famous for hits like "Livin' La Vida Loca," swung his infamously leather pants clad hips in step behind President Obama, endorsing him for the 2012 election.
The openly gay singer is hosting a fundraiser with Obama in New York Monday just days after the president publicly declared his support for same-sex marriage.
"I applaud President @barackobama for affirming that ALL Americans should enjoy equal rights," Martin tweeted shortly after the president's announcement last Wednesday. "Historic! I will be a very proud host on Monday."
While the fundraiser was scheduled weeks ago, it takes on a new significance following Obama's assertion that "same sex couples should be able to get married."
"I am proud to support our president," Martin told Univision's Spanish-language program Primer Imapcto after announcing the fundraiser last month.
"I believe Barack Obama has shown a deep conviction to help those most in need, even if their voices are not always the ones heard the loudest in Washington," Martin continued. "He has also been an exceptionally strong advocate for the Latino and LGBT communities, leading us to precedent setting milestones such as the appointment of the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice and the repeal of [Don't Ask, Don't Tell]."
quicklist: 1title: Jeff Foxworthycategory: Endorsed: Mitt Romneytext: He already loves the cheesy grits. He has perfected the twang in his "y'all." And in order to further beef up his Southern street cred before the Alabama and Mississippi primaries Tuesday, Mitt Romney called in the blue-collar cavalry.
Self-proclaimed Redneck comedian Jeff Foxworthy joined Romney on the Alabama campaign trail in March, just days before the state's primary election, after endorsing the GOP candidate via Twitter.
"Time for Republicans to unite behind Governor Romney, a great leader who can win the White House and rebuild our economy for all Americans," Foxworthy tweeted.
The "Blue Collar Comedy Tour" headliner most famous for his "you might be a redneck if..." jokes went out on the stump to support Romney amid a torrential downpour in Mobile, Ala., before traveling to two additional meet and greets in Biloxi, Mississippi and Richland, Mississippi.
quicklist: 1category: Endorsed: Barack Obamatitle: James Taylortext: How sweet is it to be loved by James Taylor? If you're President Obama, it's pretty sweet considering the sing/songwriter is about embark on an 18-city concert tour through a handful of battleground states.
Taylor, who endorsed Obama in 2008 as well, said he will throw a little politics between the fire and rain on his folk-rock tour this year.
"I am so -- I really love this president. I love what it says about America, that we were able to elect this man," Taylor, 63, said in an interview with local North Carolina TV affiliate WCNC.
The North Carolina native will sing the president's praises in tough general election states like Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Ohio and Colorado.
quicklist: 3category: Endorsed: Mitt Romneytitle: Ted Nugenttext: Hollywood may be leaning toward President Obama, but the rockers seem to be picking Romney. Ted Nugent came out in support of Mitt Romney shortly after Kid Rock made a guest appearance on the Romney campaign trial to play his song "Born Free."
Nugent announced his endorsement on Twitter, telling his 44,000 followers "after a long heart&soul conversation with MittRomney today I concluded this goodman will properly represent we the people & I endorsed him."
Nugent, who is from Michigan but now lives in Texas, told the Texas Tribune that before deciding on his endorsement he spoke with Romney over the phone to make sure the former Massachusetts governor would not enact any gun law restrictions and would help rein in what he dubbed the "out of control" U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
"The conclusion based on all the evidence I can find is that Mitt Romney has the best shot at bringing the U.S. Constitution, common sense, and the American way back to the White House," Nugent told the Tribune. But Romney was not Nugent's first choice for president.
"It is my firm belief that Rick Perry would have [made] and would make the best president we could choose," Nugent said, adding that he was baffled by Perry's debate performances. "If the real Rick Perry had been at those debates, he would still be in the race."
quicklist: 2category: Supports: Mitt Romneytitle: Kid Rocktext: Kid Rock found his presidential jam the day before his home state's voters found their polling places. The rapper-turned-country-rocker belted out "Born Free," Mitt Romney's official campaign song, at the presidential candidate's final Michigan rally before Romney's home state voted Feb. 28.
While the musician did not actually endorse Romney, he insisted on a personal meeting with the GOP candidate before he agreed to take the stage at Romney's rally.
"The other day I got in my car and I drove out to a home of a fellow that lives in this area, and I asked him whether he might come here tonight," Romney said before introducing Kid Rock. "He said, 'If you're elected president, will you help me help the city of Detroit?' I said I would. And then I turned to him, and I said, 'By the way, given the fact that I'm willing to do those things, will you come here and perform a concert tonight for my friends, and he said he would."
Rock's pseudo-endorsement represents a change of heart for the music star. During the last presidential race, Rock, whose real name is Bob Ritchie, said celebrities should keep their political opinions to themselves.
"I truly believe that people like myself, who are in a position of entertainers in the limelight, should keep their mouth shut on politics," he told CMT Insider. "Because at the end of the day, I'm good at writing songs and singing. What I'm not educated in is the field of political science. And so for me to be sharing my views and influencing people of who I think they should be voting for ... I think would be very irresponsible on my part."
Rock went on to say that celebrity endorsements actually "hurt politicians."
"As soon as somebody comes out for a politician, especially in Hollywood, when they all go, 'I'm voting for this guy!' -- I go, 'That's not who I'm voting for!'" Rock said in the 2008 interview.
quicklist: 3category: Supports: Barack Obamatitle: Bill Mahertext:While another comedian makes a mockery of Super PACs, liberal jokester Bill Maher put $1 million worth of support behind the pro-Obama Super PAC Priorities USA.
Maher said he decided to write the mega-check to Priorities "partially out of fear -- fear of Santorum and Romney," who he said live in a "bubble of insanity."
"Half the country is nuts, and Obama could very well lose," Maher told the Los Angeles Times after announcing his donation in February. "He may not have been the best president in his first term, but given the alternative, I feel there's a clear choice.
"Unless the rich liberals get into the game," Maher added, "Obama will be horribly outspent. If he is outspent, he stands a good chance of losing."
Maher told ABC News that he hoped his hefty donation would inspire other wealthy Democrats to do the same.
"Hey, rich liberals," he said. "If I can do this, there's a lot of people who can do it even easier."
quicklist: 1category: Endorsed: Barack Obamatitle: Eva Longoriaurl: text:
To say that actress Eva Longoria is an Obama supporter would be a glaring understatement.
Not only has the "Desperate Housewives" star publicly announced her support for the president and held high-dollar fundraisers to fill his election war chest, she is one of two big names in Hollywood who signed on to be one of 35 "ambassadors" for his re-election campaign.
Longoria will spearhead efforts to reach women and Hispanic voters leading up to the 2012 election, Obama's re-election campaign announced in February. Kalpen Modi (aka Kal Penn) is the only other actor on the list.
Before a high-dollar fundraising dinner with the president in September, Longoria told Jimmy Kimmel that Obama has been "very receptive" to her in her efforts to promote Latino issues.
"I'm a big Obama supporter no matter what he's been through -- he's been beaten up the past couple of years," Longoria said, according to the Huffington Post. "He's been very receptive for me, I'm a big advocate for Latino issues, and so he's been a big listener and he's done a lot of coalitions and roundtables regarding what we want changed."
Longoria helped raise between $200,000 and $500,000 for Obama's re-election in 2011 and in she helped inspire additional online donations in December when the Obama campaign raffled off a dinner with the actress to five online donors.
quicklist: 2category: Endorsed: Newt Gingrichtitle: Chuck Norris url: text:
Chuck Norris' endorsement of Newt Gingrich was nearly as epic as the decades of jokes about his larger-than-life persona.
"Civilization is on the brink," Norris wrote in a WND.com editorial. "We need a veteran of political war who has already fought Goliath, because he will be facing Goliath's bigger brother. [Gingrich] is the best man left on the battlefield who is able to outwit, outplay and outlast Obama and his campaign machine."
Since his endorsement, Gingrich has anointed Norris as a member of the GOP candidate's "Faith Leaders Dream Team," a group of what he calls "fearless Christians" who serve as Gingrich's "official advisory coalition on issues pertaining to life, marriage, and religious liberty," according to his campaign website.
quicklist: 3category: Endorsed: Mitt Romneytitle: Donald Trumpurl: text:
If you ask Donald Trump, the most important endorsement of the GOP primary was Donald Trump's, which he bestowed on Mitt Romney after a whirlwind of rumors that the real estate mogul was going to pick Newt Gingrich.
Trump officially announced his endorsement in the Trump International Hotel on the Las Vegas strip shortly before the Nevada Caucus.
"Mitt is tough, he's smart, he's sharp, he's not going to allow bad things to continue to happen to this country that we all love," Trump said. "So, Gov. Romney, go out and get 'em. You can do it."
quicklist: 4category: Endorsed: Ron Paul title: Vince Vaughn url:text:
Hollywood humor met primary politics when actor Vince Vaughn endorsed Rep. Ron Paul while introducing him at the Liberty Political Action Conference in September.
"Ron and Vince are friends, with Vince not merely interested in Dr. Paul's philosophy but he also graciously invited Dr. and Mrs. Paul to the premier of his film 'Couples Retreat,'" Paul's campaign manager Jesse Benton said in a statement, according to Slate.
Vaughn is a long-time supporter of Paul, having endorsed his 2009 book "End the Fed," as well.
quicklist: 5category: Endorsed: Barack Obamatitle: Stephen Spielbergurl: text:
Having a three-time Academy Award winning director on your side is not only good for morale; it's also great for fundraising. Director Steven Spielberg donated nearly $150,000 to Democratic election efforts in 2011, including $5,000 to Obama's campaign and $100,000 to pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
While Spielberg is a long-time supporter of the Democratic Party, he was not one of the original Hollywood Obama-backers. During the 2008 Democratic primary, Spielberg endorsed Obama's opponent Hillary Clinton.
quicklist: 6category: Endorsed: Mitt Romneytitle: Cindy Crawford url: text:
Supermodel City Crawford was a firm supporter of Barack Obama in 2008, with both she and her husband contributing the federal limit to the Illinois senator's presidential campaign.
But in 2012, the model-turned-actress is putting her bet on Mitt Romney. Crawford appeared in an early campaign video for the former Massachusetts governor, although her spokeswoman told CNN at the time that Crawford was "not politically aligned with any party or candidate" and merely doing a favor for one of Romney's sons, with whom she was friends.
quicklist: 7category: Supports: Ron Paul title: Kelly Clarksonurl: text:
While pop star Kelly Clarkson has not officially endorsed Ron Paul, the original "American Idol" winner tweeted some Ron Paul Revolution love to her 1.1 million followers back in December.
"I love Ron Paul," Clarkson tweeted. "I liked him a lot during the last Republican nomination, and no one gave him a chance. If he wins the nomination for the Republican Party in 2012, he's got my vote. Too bad he probably won't."
Clarkson's tepid support ignited a deluge of 140-character criticisms from her Twitter fans, many of whom were apparently unhappy about racist newsletters Paul sent out during his decades-long tenure as a Texas congressman.
Clarkson later apologized to her Twitter fans for throwing her support behind Paul.
"I am really sorry if I have offended anyone," Clarkson tweeted. "Obviously, that was not my intent. I do not support racism. I support gay rights, straight rights, women's rights, men's rights, white/black/purple/orange rights. I like Ron Paul because he believes in less government and letting the people (all of us) make the decisions and mold our country. That is all. Out of all of the Republican nominees, he's my favorite."
In an interview for Rolling Stone in March, Clarkson said she was flabergasted by the instant outrage that her political-themed tweet incited.
"I'm hanging out with my brother and my little niece, playing Barbies, and Ron Paul comes on TV," she said according to Politico. "He doesn't BS around anything. I was like, 'This dude is refreshing.' All I did was tweet what I thought, and people went crazy! All of a sudden people were like, 'You hate gay people' -- what? I didn't even endorse him! All I said was that I liked him. I voted for Barack, so it's not even like I'm a hardcore Republican."
quicklist: 8category: Supports: Ron Paul title: Michelle Branchurl: text:
Apparently pop stars flock together when it comes to presidential endorsements. Shortly after Kelly Clarkson tweeted her support for Ron Paul, fellow pop princess Michelle Branch retweeted her supported, writing "@kelly_clarkson I wholeheartedly agree. #RonPaul"
Branch is best known for her early 2000s hits "Breathe" and "All You Wanted."
quicklist: 9category: Endorsed: Barack Obamatitle: George Clooneyurl: text:
Actor George Clooney was an Obama supporter before being an Obama supporter was cool. In a 2006 interview with ABC's Kate Snow, Clooney said then-Sen. Obama was "the most charismatic person I've been in a room with in a long time."
"I must tell you, I've never seen anybody in my life in person that was as qualified this young to do what I think we need done," Clooney said.
And six years later, Clooney is still a firm Obama supporter. Clooney was on the guest list at a $35,800 per person fundraising dinner in Los Angeles during the president's West Coast fundraising spree last week.
"I'm disillusioned by the people who are disillusioned by Obama, quite honestly, I am," Clooney said on ABC News Now's "Popcorn with Peter Travers" before the October release of "The Ides of March," a political movie that he wrote, directed and starred in. "Democrats eat their own. Democrats find singular issues and go, 'Well, I didn't get everything I wanted.' I'm a firm believer in sticking by and sticking up for the people whom you've elected."
quicklist: 10category: Endorsed: Mitt Romneytitle: Gene Simmonsurl: text:
Gene Simmons, the bassist in the rock band Kiss, chose team Romney in January, telling Big Hollywood that Romney has the best chance of beating President Obama.
"Who's got a chance? Mitt Romney's got a chance and he's got the experience," Simmons said in the Big Hollywood interview. "He's run successful companies, knows how to make money. I believe Mitt Romney and President Obama are going to have a very good dialogue, and I want to hear that dialogue."
quicklist: 11category: Endorsed: Ron Paul title: Joe Perry url: text:
In what is becoming typical rock star fashion, Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry used Twitter to tell the world he was voting for Ron Paul.
"Obama hasn't done anything close to what he promised he'd do," Perry tweeted in January. "Didn't get my vote and I got lotta grief. Well, my votes for Ron Paul."
quicklist: 12category: Endorsed: Rick Santorumtitle: Pat Boone url: text:
The 1950s singer, actor and author Pat Boone, 77, threw his support behind Rick Santorum, saying in a statement that Santorum is "experienced, honest and deeply principled," according to Politico.
"I am excited to endorse Rick Santorum for president. I've known Rick for many years, and Rick has been a consistent defender of conservatism and the values our great nation was founded upon," Boone said in a statement released by Santorum's campaign.
Boone, whose rendition of Little Richard's "Tutti Fruiti" sent him to the top of the Billboard charts, is an outspoken critic of President Obama. He told the San Francisco chronicle in September that he believes the president was born in Kenya, is a Muslim and is "spending millions" to hide his real birth certificate. Each charge was refuted after Obama released both his certificate of live birth and long-form birth certificate.
quicklist: 13category: Endorsed: Donald Trumptitle: Snookiurl: text:
The Donald might not be running for president, but if he were, he would enjoy the backing of one of his fellow reality-TV superstars, Snooki. The "Jersey Shore" diva, whose real name is Nicole Polizzi, told the Huffington Post in January that Donald Trump would be her pick for president.
"I thought Trump was going to run," Snooki told the Huffington Post. "But he's not, right? I would endorse him and vote for him."