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Buffett adds laid-back air to Graham campaign

The singer plans to make appearances for Sen. Bob Graham's presidential run.

By BILL ADAIR and DAVID ADAMS, Times Staff Writers
© St. Petersburg Times
published May 29, 2003

Sen. Bob Graham might have a tough time winning Iowa and New Hampshire, but he's the front-runner in Margaritaville.

Singer Jimmy Buffett plans to make appearances for Graham's presidential campaign, according to spokesmen for Buffett and the campaign.

Mike Ramos, a Buffett spokesman, said "Jimmy's going to be helping out," but campaign officials and the singer have not determined when or where he will perform. It's likely to be after Buffett's summer tour.

Graham campaign spokesman Jamal Simmons said, "It's just a matter of figuring out when, where and if it will be a solo event or whatever."

Among the possibilities: campaign events in Iowa or New Hampshire and fundraising events in other states.

Graham and Buffett have been friends since they co-founded the Save the Manatee Club in 1981 when Graham was governor. They sang together at the press corps skits in Tallahassee, and Graham played an adulterous husband in a video for Buffett's song, Who's the Blonde Stranger?

A new TV public service announcement from the manatee group features Buffett urging people to protect the creatures. He gives the Democratic senator a favorable plug, reminding viewers that "Back in 1981, my friend Sen. Bob Graham and I co-founded the Save the Manatee Club."

Buffett, famous for his 1977 song Margaritaville, has a loyal corps of baby boomer fans known as Parrot Heads. He has often performed at campaign rallies for Democratic candidates, including Gov. Lawton Chiles, Vice President Al Gore and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill McBride.

Craig Crawford, a political analyst for Congressional Quarterly and MSNBC, said Buffett could bring some pizzazz to Graham's campaign.

"All these candidates need an image-loosening," said Crawford.

"Heck, if Graham and Buffett can do for the Democratic primary what they did for the manatees, Graham should be able to win the nomination," he said.

"Buffett wouldn't make a bad running mate."

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