US election: Will celebrity support help Clinton?

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Media captionBruce Springsteen: "The choice tomorrow couldn't be any clearer"

The political rally-concert hybrid is a strange beast.

It creates unusual moments like Cuyahoga County Commissioner Armond Budish, a pudgy 63-year-old white man, telling a packed arena in downtown Cleveland that he is not, in fact, hip-hop star Jay Z.

Or Democratic vice-presidential nominee Tim Kaine slow-jamming You Give Love a Bad Name with rocker Jon Bon Jovi in Florida.

Or 79-year-old former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright getting more raucous applause than actress Debra Messing in Philadelphia.

As with all things Clinton, however, there's a method to strangeness. If the flood of Wikileaks emails hacked from Mrs Clinton's senior advisors has revealed anything, it's that the campaign doesn't make any move by accident.

The Clintons have ties to the entertainment industry dating back to the start of Bill Clinton's presidency in 1992, and now those connections are being strategically employed in key electoral battleground states.

Over the past few weeks, a litany of stars have helped the Democratic nominee pack music venues and arenas, to be capped off by a rally with Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi and the Obama family at Independence Hall in Philadelphia on Monday night.

Every concert, every celebrity appearance in the closing days of Mrs Clinton's campaign has a purpose - to court a key portion of the Democratic coalition that powered Barack Obama to two presidential terms.

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Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption LeBron James, Katy Perry and Jon Bon Jovi have all taken part in recent events to support Hillary Clinton's campaign

For some, such as Mrs Clinton's rally with basketball mega-athlete LeBron James in Cleveland on Sunday or the concert with music and film star Jennifer Lopez in Miami two weeks ago, the intent is obvious.

Other events are more difficult to comprehend, like rolling out aging folk singer James Taylor in New Hampshire - until you realise that the New England state has more than its share of unreconstituted hippies and died-in-the-wool liberals; the sort who helped power septuagenarian socialist Bernie Sanders to a resounding win in the Democratic primary.

Often there is also a clear point the campaign is trying to drive home - such as during the hip-hop jam in Cleveland on Friday headlined Beyonce and her husband, rapper Jay Z.

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Media captionSongs and speeches from Clinton's pop star supporters

Black enthusiasm for Mrs Clinton and early voting turnout in this Democratic bastion of the key swing state of Ohio has been notably down from Mr Obama's two campaigns. Given that the first black president is no longer on the ballot, that is not particularly surprising - but it's concerning to the Clinton camp, which is relying on Cleveland's Cuyahoga County to make up for losses among working-class whites elsewhere in the state.

And so, speaker after speaker on Friday - the politicians, the celebrities and Mrs Clinton herself - drew the line for the largely black crowd directly from Barack Obama to the current Democratic nominee.

After referencing Jay Z's quote that civil rights leader Martin Luther King's work was "so Barack Obama could run, and Barack Obama ran so all the children could fly," Mrs Clinton said there was unfinished business to do.

"There are more barriers to break," she said. "And with your help, a glass ceiling to crack once and for all."

Among the roughly 10,000 who attended the concert, there were kind words for the former secretary of state - although few said they had voted yet, and there was often a tacit acknowledgement that Obama-level enthusiasm wasn't always there.

Image caption Stephen Morgan says he's listened to Jay Z "since I was little" and thinks the rapper's support will help Hillary Clinton

"I think it could be better, but I'm excited," says Ashley Manningham, a local schoolteacher. "I think 2008 was more important. Having the first black president was such a huge deal, that was number one."

Stephen Morgan, a videographer at Cleveland State University, which hosted the rally, said the star power of the event could definitely help turn out voters in the days ahead.

"Sometimes it takes an idol of yours, like Beyonce, to come out and tell you that this is importance for us," he said. "You need to see people who are in our generation, our age bracket, coming out and telling us about the importance of voting."

The following day in Philadelphia - a Democratic stronghold in Pennsylvania, an essential part of the Clinton campaign's blue-state firewall against a Donald Trump victory - Mrs Clinton held a different kind of campaign concert with a decidedly different crowd.

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Image caption Singer Katy Perry greets Hillary Clinton in an "I'm with Madam President" cloak.

Local college students, campaign volunteers and mums with pre-teen daughters packed the outdoor amphitheatre on a brisk autumn evening to watch pop star Katy Perry perform a brief, but enthusiastically received concert.

"Tonight I want to hear you roar," Mrs Clinton said, referring to one of Perry's more famous lyrics as she introduced the singer. "Tonight it is a celebration for everything that you've already done to help us and all that we will do together."

Perry herself took a break between numbers to make a minute-long pitch for the candidate she referred to as "our girl" that seemed geared not for her younger audience but to the mothers in the crowd.

"Our choice doesn't just affect us," she said. "If you've got children right now, their children are going to be affected by the election."

The intent of the event was less about convincing possibly unmotivated supporters to head to the polls and more about rallying the party faithful for a final push to election day.

"It's definitely nice to see all the supporters in one place," said Ellyn Womelsdorf, who works as a customer service representative at a legal services company. "It's wonderful to be with like-minded people and know that Hillary has a lot of support."

Image caption Ellyn Womelsdorf (left) attends Hillary Clinton's Katy Perry concert with Makayla Ankielewicz and Ahna Hyorwich (right)

Leah Wenhold, a senior at Temple University, said that she was glad the campaign was using concerts to reach a larger audience.

"I think this kind of event, when you get all sorts of people coming out, maybe they are coming partially for Katy Perry, but they're getting the political message too that they might not otherwise get if they stayed home."

Mrs Clinton's appeal to celebrities has also attracted Mr Trump's attention, as he spent recent days condemning Jay Z's obscenity-laced raps and boasting that he didn't need help drawing crowds to his rallies.

"I didn't have to bring J-Lo or Jay Z - the only way she gets anybody," Mr Trump said at a rally in attended by an estimated 11,000 supporters. 'I'm here all by myself. Just me. No guitar, no piano, no nothing."

Whether or not packing an arena with the help of a star is "almost like cheating", as Mr Trump alleged, do Mrs Clinton's events really help. Do newly-motivated voters turn out once the music stops and the lights go off?

The morning after the Cleveland hip-hop concert, just a few blocks from where the Jay Z, Beyonce and Clinton fans gathered, there was a steady stream of Clevelanders going into the Cuyahoga Board of Elections building - the one place where the 1.2 million residents of the county could cast their early ballots.

Most of the arrivals that morning knew about the previous night's event - and Beyonce's "I'm with her" entreaties to vote for Mrs Clinton. Few, however, seemed to care that much.

"Beyonce didn't have to do that," said Ken Tate, as he walked into the polling place. "People are still going to turn out anyway."

Alicia Davis, who came to vote with her mother, Yvonne East, and her son, Aiden, said she wasn't surprised by the celebrity endorsements. She was more motivated to turn out because she so strongly disliked Mr Trump.

"There's a lot of things about Hillary that I don't agree with, but she's the lesser of two evils," she said.

"We can't let Trump get in," East added. "He's crazy."