WILMINGTON, Del. – Poised over the piano, Carole King was set to play “I Feel the Earth Move” during a recent virtual fundraiser for Joe Biden when the Democratic presidential nominee himself beat her to it.
“On my playlist, Carole!” Biden proclaimed, holding up his phone and letting a few seconds of the song blast.
“Oh, well, I'll just sit back and let you play your playlist," King said with a laugh.
The four-time Grammy winner isn't the only Biden playlist mainstay helping his campaign against President Donald Trump. Jimmy Buffett noted that “Come Monday” was among the hits stored on Biden's phone before singing it at another recent fundraiser. And James Taylor told another group that he learned to play “America the Beautiful” for President Barack Obama's 2013 inauguration, when Biden was sworn in for four more years as vice president.
With in-person campaigning largely suspended because of the coronavirus, a parade of movie and TV stars, pop icons and sports standouts are proving crucial in helping Biden raise money and energize supporters as campaign surrogates. Events this week with celebrities and advocates including actress Alyssa Milano are serving as counter-programming to the Republican National Convention.
“We’re just flooding the zone as much as possible,” said Michelle Kwan, Biden’s surrogate director and an Olympic silver and bronze medalist figure skater who held a similar post for Hillary Clinton in 2016. “Our artists and actors who are surrogates, they tend to be at home so their availability and their schedule has opened up (and) they’re willing to do more things."
Biden’s campaign now has a team of 15 staffers dedicated to organizing surrogate activities.
Republicans point to the events as evidence that Biden and his running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, are closer to Hollywood than the heartland. Speaking at the RNC this week, party chairwoman Ronna McDaniel noted that actress Eva Longoria, known for her role on “Desperate Housewives,” moderated one night of last week's Democratic convention.