Paul Simon, Rhymin' for the Dodd Campaign

Singer Paul Simon is on tour, but it's not his conventional act. He was in Iowa Saturday to help out a friend mounting an underdog running for president: Sen. Christopher Dodd, the Democrat from Connecticut.

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DEBBIE ELLIOTT, host:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Debbie Elliott.

It was a day for politicians to enlist musicians in their causes. In a few moments, we'll be hearing about the Live Earth concerts across the globe. But there is another movable rock show going on in Iowa.

NPR's Linda Wertheimer has been traveling with Senator Christopher Dodd as he campaigns for the Democratic presidential nomination. She's on the line with us from Council Bluffs.

And Linda, is that who I think I hear on the background?

LINDA WERTHEIMER: Absolutely, Paul Simon, live and in person. He just got out this giant bus that's got Chris Dodd's name plastered all over in red, white and blue - looks like a rock concert bus and we're having a concert.

ELLIOTT: So are the people there coming to hear Paul Simon or are they coming to hear Senator Dodd talk about why he should be president?

WERTHEIMER: Well, I think, it's a bit of both. You know, this being Iowa, people are very sort of responsible and serious about what they're doing. So Paul Simon kind of opens the door and brings them in and then it's Chris Dodd's job to make the sale.

And the people I've talked to have said, you know, he's very - he's passionate. His ideas are good. We like him. It's not at all clear that they've done anything more than just kind of giving him some considerations. But that's a big stage and where he stands on the, you know, in the ranking, that's all he can hope for. That's what he wants.

ELLIOTT: Why does Paul Simon say he is backing Senator Dodd's candidacy?

WERTHEIMER: They've been friends for a long time. They've been friends for 25 years. He keeps telling the story of how they met in Czechoslovakia, the first election of Vaclav Havel.

(Soundbite of applause)

WERTHEIMER: You can hear the crowd. The crowd likes him just fine. But I think that he talks about how he's having a friend running for president. He keeps -he tells audiences, this man is a wise man, you should listen to him. You know, he says he's spoken out on lots of issues that Paul Simon cares about, especially issues of love and children.

ELLIOTT: Well, is Mr. Simon pulling out any special lyrics for this occasion?

WERTHEIMER: Well, there had been a few. You know, there was, God loves you more than you can know. God (unintelligible) the middle of her, Mrs. Robertson. There was a moment where he switched from Joe de Maggio - where have you gone, Joe de Maggio, to where have you gone, Todd Williams because the candidate is a Bosox(ph) fan. You know, there's been little stuff like that, more sort of affection and then political I would say.

ELLIOTT: Well, it sounds like the crowd there is enjoying it?

WERTHEIMER: Well, you know, it's really interesting. The question is that this is, at least even a little breakthrough for Christopher Dodd where it brings him, you know, to the notice of more people than had noticed him already.

(Soundbite of applause)

ELLIOTT: NPR's Linda Wertheimer in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Thank you.

WERTHEIMER: Thank you.

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