Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons endorses Obama for president, but still has affinity for Clinton

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

By The Associated Press

NEW YORK – Russell Simmons has been pushing young people to vote, but for a while there, it was looking as if the music industry heavyweight would have trouble casting his own ballot.

Not anymore.

The hip-hop mogul said Sunday he is endorsing Barack Obama for president, inspired by the diversity among the Illinois senator’s supporters. Obama has built an unprecedented national movement of people from all ethnic, racial, political, social and economic backgrounds, Simmons said in a news release.

It was a little more than a year ago that Simmons, the co-founder of Def Jam Recordings who says he’s an independent who has supported Democrats and Republicans, sounded as if he was having a hard time deciding.

“If you could take Barack Obama’s image, add Hillary Rodham Clinton’s money and John Edwards’ voice, that would be my candidate,” Simmons said in January 2007.

At the time, Simmons called Obama “a rock star” who hadn’t presented a clear picture of where he stands.

“I don’t know what his opinions are,” Simmons said then, noting that he preferred Edwards’ message and was fond of liberal Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich.

Simmons still has enough love to go around, it seems.

While endorsing Obama on Sunday, he noted his respect for Clinton from having worked with the New York senator on education, prison reform and anti-poverty programs.

Simmons, who has encouraged influential musicians to become more involved in the political process, said he’s particularly impressed, however, by Obama’s support among young people.