March 4, 2012 -- intro: Could Chuck Norris' celebrity endorsement swing a presidential election? What about George Clooney's nod of approval? Or Stephen Spielberg's show of support? Probably not. But just because celebrity endorsements rarely influence voters' presidential picks doesn't mean the big names of Hollywood are sitting on the sidelines of this fierce primary battle.
From their fundraiser-friendly Los Angeles mansions and deep-pocketed friends to their widespread name recognition and broad fan base, the support of a celebrity can mean big money for a presidential campaign.
President Obama showed off his Hollywood fundraising prowess last month in a three-day sweep of East Coast fundraisers that brought in $8 million for his campaign. The Obama team has also announced that two movie stars will serve as his campaign surrogates.
But while Hollywood tends to skew Democrat, the Republican primary contenders have captured their fair share of celebrity support.
From pop stars and Hollywood hunks to super models and reality-TV divas, here's a look at some of the celebrities who've chosen a side in the 2012 fight for the White House.
quicklist: 3category: Mitt Romneytitle: Ted Nugenttext: Hollywood may be leaning toward President Obama, but the rockers seem to be picking Mitt. Ted Nugent is the second rock star in the past week that has come out in support of Mitt Romney, after Kid Rock made a guest appearance on the Romney campaign trial to play his song "Born Free" last week.
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 on Friday that prior to 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 reign 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 February 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 on Friday. "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 today. Kalpen Modi (aka Kal Penn) is the only other actor on the list.
Prior to 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, whom she was friends with.
quicklist: 7category: Endorsed: 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: Endorsed: 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 last month, 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 earlier this month, 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, who's 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 was, 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 last month 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."