In 1990, basketball superstar Michael Jordan famously refused to endorse Democrat Harvey Gantt in a North Carolina Senate race, saying, “Republicans buy shoes, too.”
Twenty-two years later, Jordan is apparently no longer worried about sneaker sales.
The Hall of Famer will headline a celebrity basketball game on Aug. 22 in New York that will double as a fund-raiser for President Obama, the Obama campaign said Tuesday.
Other high-profile participants in the Obama Classic will include Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce of the Boston Celtics, Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks, and WNBA stars Sheryl Swoopes and Dawn Staley.
Former stars Alonzo Mourning and Patrick Ewing, who learned to play basketball in the parks and leagues of Cambridge, will also be part of the event.
The Globe and Sports Illustrated have noted in recent reports that political activism by professional athletes is unusual. It will be the first Obama fund-raiser for Jordan, who led Obama’s hometown Chicago Bulls to six titles.
The campaign bills the event as an opportunity to “meet the president — and shoot hoops with some of the best basketball players alive.”
The basketball game is being used as a lure for donors, whose contributions will automatically enter them in a contest to win tickets to the event. Jordan and NBA Commissioner David Stern are co-hosting a $20,000-per-person fund-raising dinner with the president afterward, according to the Associated Press.
Republican challenger Mitt Romney has reported a higher fund-raising total than the president for the third consecutive month.
Santorum joins roster of GOP convention speakers
Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator who provided Mitt Romney’s stiffest test during the GOP primary season, will deliver a prime-time address to the Republican National Convention this month.
Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus released more details Tuesday about the convention, adding Santorum, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, and Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin to the roster of speakers.
Santorum suspended his campaign in April, two weeks before a primary in his home state that he appeared in danger of losing to Romney. He won 11 states and 255 delegates while running to the right of Romney, particularly on social issues.
After bowing out of the race, Santorum was slow to back Romney and has kept a low profile since his exit. But a prime-time speaking slot will once more put the spotlight on Santorum, who has hinted at a future presidential run.
Jeb Bush, son of former president George H.W. Bush and brother of former president George W. Bush, is also considered a possible presidential candidate in future election years. The convention will be held in his home state of Florida.
Paul is the son of Representative Ron Paul of Texas, a Republican presidential candidate this year. His inclusion is a nod to the Tea Party wing of the party.
Fallin is a first-term governor who also served a term in the House of Representatives.
On Monday, it was announced that 2008 nominee John McCain, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, and former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice would also speak.
Polls show a tight race in key swing-state blocs
NEW YORK — For all of the Democratic attacks painting Mitt Romney as an out-of-touch elitist who will help the rich at the expense of the middle class, he is maintaining the traditional — and sizable — Republican advantage among a politically vital constituency: white working-class voters in the states most likely to decide the presidential election.
And despite concerted Republican efforts to use the weak economy to drive a wedge between President Obama and female voters, the president is holding on to their crucial support in most battleground states.
Those findings, contained in the latest batch of Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News swing state polls, highlight the stubborn divisions of this year’s presidential race among two of the most important voting groups in the most hotly contested states.
But they also help explain the intense efforts of the two campaigns to alter the balance in both groups, which together will go a long way toward determining the outcome.
The latest polls underscore just how tight the race continues to be, with the candidates running closely in Virginia and Colorado and Obama leading in Wisconsin, although not by his double-digit margin of victory in 2008.
Obama won all three states in 2008.
New York Times