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Jane Fonda endorses Barack Obama; there goes his crossover vote

April 2, 2008 |  4:38 pm

Jane Fonda, the actress and ardent anti-Vietnam War advocate who visited North Vietnam during those hostilities, has endorsed Democrat Barack Obama for president.

Actress and anti-war advocate Jane Fonda at a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft battery in June 1972 singing an anti-war song with soldiers during her visit to North Vietnam in the Vietnam war has just endorsed Democrat Barack Obama of Illinois for president

There were no formal ceremonies for the endorsement. In fact, the Obama campaign may just be learning about the actress's approval now as word spreads like lit gunpowder via the Internet.

Fonda was eating out last night and exited the restaurant, ignoring as celebrities often do the assembled press contingent.

But a video camera was rolling as she approached the street and someone, perhaps just trying to get her to turn around for a picture, shouted out at her back, "Who are you going to vote for?"

There was a moment of silence. Then, the actress did turn around toward the cameras, paused and with a smile said simply, "Obama!" Then she got into a car and drove away.

Many people question the value of celebrity endorsements, whether they actually....

attract anything other than simply more publicity, not to mention votes. The imprimatur of Fonda, who's been an antiwar activist for decades, certainly supports Obama's antiwar credentials.

Less examined is whether some celebrity endorsements may actually cost a candidate votes. This could be one of those less desirable votes for part of the country, especially if Obama was hoping to attract some crossover Republicans if he's the Democratic candidate come fall.

Obama, who was recently named the most liberal member of the Senate by the nonpartisan National Journal, has sought to portray himself as the earliest anti-Iraq war opponent and tagged his sole remaining opponent, Sen. Hillary Clinton, with voting to authorize the use of force in Iraq.

The problem for those of a certain generation that endured the Vietnam War and the sometimes violent domestic conflict that accompanied it at home is that during Fonda's controversial wartime visit to North Vietnam, she was photographed at a Communist anti-aircraft gun battery.

According to the photo caption distributed at the time, she joined North Vietnamese soldiers there in singing an antiwar song while preparing to shoot at attacking Americans.

This earned her the nickname Hanoi Jane (indeed, that's the TMZ headline this afternoon) and an enduring image as a polarizing figure, especially regarding patriotism.

As it happens, the Republican presidential candidate this time is Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who was one of those American fliers shot down over that same city by those same anti-aircraft forces, tortured and spent nearly six years in a POW cell while Fonda returned home.

--Andrew Malcolm

                                       Photo: Nihon Denpa News / Associated Press

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