A former lawmaker who knows “All Too Well” the power of getting a boost from Taylor Swift says “anybody in their right mind” would want the superstar’s endorsement.
“You want the pope’s endorsement. Who’s left who has great appeal?” former Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) said of Swift.
The political world has been in meltdown mode in recent days — spurred by the Kansas City Chiefs’ win over the Baltimore Ravens that will send Swift’s boyfriend, tight end Travis Kelce, to the Super Bowl — over whether the Grammy Award winner might be backing President Biden’s reelection bid.
The New York Times reported this week that for Biden’s campaign, support from Swift would be “the endorsement of their wildest dreams.”
Cooper is part of an über-exclusive club of those who already received that distinction: He scored Swift’s show of political support back in 2018.
He can still recite where and when he got word that the 34-year-old “Shake it Off” singer was shouting him out to her fans.
“It was on a Sunday night. I was at a 90th birthday party at a place where you couldn’t use a cell phone. But I had the cell phone on buzz in my pocket and it was going crazy, so I knew something was up,” Cooper told ITK.
Assuming the worst, such as a car wreck or house fire, he snuck a peek at his phone in the men’s bathroom.
“In the stall, I checked all the messages, and took the one from my daughter first. And I called her, and she said, ‘Dad, Dad, Dad!’ breathless, and I thought, ‘Oh my God, what’s happened? Somebody hurt?’”
“And she said, ‘Taylor has endorsed you.’ And I immediately knew Taylor Swift because she loves Taylor Swift and I do, too,” he said.
Cooper, the incumbent in the race six years ago, said he never solicited the mega-wattage endorsement, which came just days before the voter registration deadline.
“In the past I’ve been reluctant to publicly voice my political opinions, but due to several events in my life and in the world in the past two years, I feel very differently about that now,” Swift wrote on Instagram at the time.
“I will be voting for Phil Bredesen for Senate and Jim Cooper for House of Representatives,” Swift said of the two Tennessee Democrats. “Please, please educate yourself on the candidates running in your state and vote based on who most closely represents your values.”
“Who’s left on the planet who has 29 million followers on social media? It’s like, oh my God. You can’t count that high,” Cooper, 69, quipped.
“I really didn’t have much of a race,” he added.
“The real endorsement that mattered was her endorsement of Bredesen who was in a tough Senate race,” Cooper said of the former Tennessee governor, who was running against then-Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R). “So I think that’s why she did it. And I was probably added on as a safe backup, so in case Phil lost, it wouldn’t look like she didn’t have any impact.”
That’s what ended up happening — Cooper went on to win reelection in November and served a total of more than 30 years in Congress. He announced in 2022 that he wouldn’t seek reelection after redistricting split up his home city of Nashville.
Blackburn is seeking a second term in the upper chamber.
But even then, Cooper said, Swift wasn’t the scorching-hot sensation that she is now.
“Six years ago, she was a star, but she wasn’t a supernova,” he said.
Cooper Lawrence, the author of “Celebritocracy: The Misguided Agenda of Celebrity Politics in a Postmodern Democracy,” said that while high-profile endorsements have some key benefits for politicians, they don’t always work out the way the famous face behind them might intend.
“Every study that is out there says that while celebrities do draw attention, what really solidifies your political self-concept Is your family and your experience,” said Lawrence.
“Look what happened with [Swift] in Tennessee,” Lawrence, who holds a doctorate in psychology and hosts the “Cooper and Anthony” podcast, said.
“She was not successful when she was trying to get people to vote against [Blackburn]. They came out and they voted — they just didn’t vote how she wanted them to vote.”
But 2024 could be different: A poll by Redfield & Wilton Strategies published this week by Newsweek found that 18 percent of voters surveyed said that they’re “more likely” or “significantly more likely” to vote for a candidate endorsed by Swift.
And whispers of a possible Biden backing has brought an onslaught of backlash from the right, with countless wild conspiracy theories being floated accusing the “Eras” entertainer of being a “psy-op” and the Super Bowl being rigged in the Chiefs favor so she can maximize exposure for a potential Biden endorsement.
A Swift representative didn’t return ITK’s request for comment about if and whom the star might give her seal of approval to in the 2024 race.
“If she was Republican, if she was conservative, Republicans would not be complaining. They’d be thrilled. So it’s a shame for them that she’s liberal,” Lawrence said of Swift, who was critical of former President Trump and supported Biden in the 2020 White House race.
But, the radio personality added, “We’ll see if it’ll affect the actual voting. Historically, it usually doesn’t.”
For Cooper, the uproar on the right boils down to one thing: envy.
“Anybody who doesn’t get her endorsement is just jealous,” the ex-congressman, a global fellow at the Wilson Center and a distinguished scholar in residence at Vanderbilt Law School, said.
“I’m one of the luckiest people in American history to have gotten her endorsement.”